By on February 18, 2014

keaton

TTAC welcomes “Anonymous”, a former temp who worked in a Japanese transplant factory, as he presents his opinion on the effect of the UAW on the American auto industry and the significance of the Chattanooga vote.

Sit down with me, children, and let me tell you about some of the great things labor unions have done for this country. The forty-hour week, safer working conditions, the defeat of the Pinkerton “bulls”, and, well, that’s probably about it. Many of the advances credited to labor unions by people who never bothered to read a history book are actually due to legislation. That’s okay. History, as the man who once doubled the wages he paid his employees without the pressure of a union to make him do it said, is bunk.

Now let’s talk about what the UAW has done for American workers. It created the “job banks”, where people were paid to do nothing. It created the seniority system that paid people $100,000 a year to sweep floors while young people were mercilessly shuffled off into a low-wage “tier”. It ensured that every automobile built by its employees during a time when American automakers were in the fight of their lives came out of the factory at the highest possible labor cost while simultaneously offering the lowest possible quality, often because the cars were sabotaged by overpaid workers who were encouraged to despise their employer, their product, and their customer.

Not satisfied yet? Don’t forget the best part of all.

The UAW was so powerful, so successful, so brilliantly adept at crippling the corporate hosts to which it parasitically clung that those corporations risked everything to gamble on Mexican assembly. The all-American HEMI motor? Built in Saltillo, Mexico. The Ford Fusion, America’s last hope against the Camcords and Sonoptimas? Hecho in Mexico, amigo. The only way America can effectively compete in the automotive market is to build American cars somewhere besides America. Hundreds of thousands of American jobs were whisked away to Mexico and Korea because General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler realized that UAW labor was a luxury item that benefited no one but the folks snoozing away peaceful afternoons at the job bank.

Every time the UAW won, America lost. It lost jobs. It lost skills. It lost the manufacturing floor space, the tooling, the machinery it needs to compete. And let’s get this straight: the problem isn’t the American worker. If you don’t believe me, then let’s take a ride to Greensburg, Indiana, so you can see for yourself.

Greensburg is where the Honda Civic and Acura ILX sedans are built. These vehicles are among the highest-quality manufactured products money can buy anywhere in the world. They are built by workers who have never held a union card. The majority of these workers earn a wage that allows them and their families to enjoy the middle-class lifestyle that some would have you believe is the sole province of the pampered union saboteurs in Detroit factories. Most of them started as “temps”, earning ten bucks an hour to do simple labor, but now they earn twenty-five or thirty dollars an hour or more. Their managers are often recruited from the factory floor, not from a fancy Michigan MBA system that perpetuates an officer/enlisted division between management and labor. Seniority is irrelevant. Excellence matters and leaders of teams are often chosen by those teams.

Of course, Greensburg, Indiana isn’t the only place you can find Americans living the American Dream by assembling “Japanese” or “German” cars. Non-UAW labor assembles some of the most popular vehicles in the country, and, to be frank, it assembles most of the higher-quality ones. These workers have rejected the UAW time and again ever since the first Accord rolled off the Ohio assembly lines, and they continue to do so every chance they get.

What can the UAW offer them? Nothing except thuggish intimidation. It is a parasite that destroys the host. Don’t believe the canard, often proffered by left-wing professor types who would weep self-pitying tears of pain and sorrow an hour into their first shift on an assembly line, that the existence of the UAW is all that keeps the “transplants” from turning their plants into Upton-Sinclair-esque halls of horror and workplace mutilation. To begin with, the right of American workers to safe conditions and dignity is guaranteed by the government, not the UAW.

But let’s say they’re right. What if the UAW is all that protects American workers in transplant factories from being forced to paint the cars using leaded paint and a brush? If the UAW dissolved permanently and the evil, slant-eyed Japanese Tojos started whipping the workers with steel-barbed instruments of torture while comically exchanging the letters “r” and “l” in their broken speech, how hard would it be to start a new union to which those abused workers would eagerly flock? You know the answer: it would happen in a heartbeat, and our beloved Chairman Obama would be the princeps among the resurgent Red tide.

(Before you start enjoying the idea of the above scenario too much, it should be mentioned that the senior managers at most transplant factories are homegrown Americans, by which we mean “white people” and “black people”. In the case of Honda, the major plants have been under “American” control for decades now. If Japanese psuedo-samurai were required to beat the workers and make them do calisthenics, they would have to be imported.)

Yes, a union would arise, were one needed, but that does nothing for the UAW itself, which has long since become a twisted, perverse organization devoted only to its own survival, a maggot of unimaginable proportions gnawing the flesh of a dying man, a factory in its own right, chewing its younger members into bloody pap so that its senior parasites can be richly fed. Why else would it fight so hard against the secret ballot and the established NLRB procedures? Why else would it openly intimidate men and women who simply want to work? Why else would it intimidate their families and their communities? If the UAW was anything besides an organized racket, preying on the young and the weak even while it destroys the factories in which they work, couldn’t it rely on the workers themselves to ask for it?

You know the answer to that, and so do the workers, and so does the UAW. Thankfully, the men and women who work for Volkswagen in Chattanooga have resisted the intimidation, the pressure, the baying of a blue-lapdog media, and they’ve voted for themselves. For their families. For their futures. And wherever the standard of bravery is raised, others will see it. The Volkswagen vote was a vote against corruption, against parasitical blood-sucking, against intimidation. Make no mistake: we may always need unions in this country. But we no longer need the UAW. If, indeed, we ever did.

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265 Comments on “Guest Post: “Anonymous” On The Battle Of Chattanooga...”


  • avatar
    doctor olds

    The UAW destroyed the jobs of the vast majority of their former members by forcing the enterprises out of business. A frightening microcosmic example of what our democracy faces with folks voting for the man with the gun (government) or club(union strike)to take someone else’s money for them. The country is on an eerily similar path toward municipal and state (national?)bankruptcy as has just occurred in Detroit.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      “The country is on an eerily similar path toward municipal and state (national?)bankruptcy as has just occurred in Detroit.”

      Absolutely. At least the UAW negotiated against profit seeking private sector managers. The public sector unions “negotiate” against the politicians that they have already bribed with political contributions.

      Those politicians then raise the regressive sales and property taxes, which hurt poor taxpayers the most, so that public sector workers can continue to give the finger to taxpayers by retiring in their early 50s (compared to, for example, the Social Security retirement age of 68) and collecting inflation adjusted pensions, often in the six-figures, for the rest of their lives.

      The UAW was not a great private sector union, but it is nothing compared to the damage that public sector unions are doing to the country.

      Hopefully communities continue to stand up against getting bankrupted by public sector unions, as San Diego did with Proposition B, switching all new government employees from defined benefits pensions to defined contribution pensions.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        @racer-esq.- You hit the nail on the head about the monopoly public sector unions. Even FDR pointed out they are inappropriate.

        The UAW did have a big similarity- a union monopoly on an industry. That worked until competitors outside the control of that union came into the market.

        King knows that these non-UAW plants must be brought under UAW control for them to regain the power they once had, and likely will dwindle away otherwise.

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        You can’t move municipal jobs to Mexico is the problem, so eventually there will be confrontation, possibly bloody, between municipal workers and taxpayers who will be taxed to death to fund their pensions and other goodies.

        This article should be the preamble of the bill abolishing the National Labor Relations Act.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      But it still must be up to the workers to decide by majority rule if they buy into the union premise, or not.

      Regardless, the UAW is not going to give up its quest to unionize the plants in the South. They’ll just keep coming back, try and try again, because for the UAW this is an existential battle.

      Look for the UAW to come back stronger than ever, and with a whole new message, as they go after the American plants of Mercedes-Benz and BMW next.

      • 0 avatar
        Yeah_right

        Huh? The UAW just lost a major battle, one in which they invested millions of their dwindling funds. Why would they come back “better than ever”? Isn’t it the exact opposite? Now in order to unionize a southern plant the UAW has to explain to employees why they lost at VW under the most favorable conditions they will ever have. Although it wasn’t a blow-out, the vote wasn’t all that close.

  • avatar

    “Many of the advances credited to labor unions by people who never bothered to read a history book are actually due to legislation.”

    The protective legislation came from where exactly? Legislation does not come into being in a void. Politicians will rarely act on something if their arms are not pulled. Unions had and still have a place, unless the transplant factories mentioned are havens of fraternity, self sacrifice and dedication to others.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “Legislation does not come into being in a void.”

      Very much agreed.

    • 0 avatar
      Quantum Cowboy

      That would have been my point as well. Many companies have been motivated to treat their employees better because they feared the impact of a union on their decision-making ability.

      This is not hearsay either. I used to work for a huge telecom. They had no union shops and were terrified of the possibility. So they provided many benefits (15% better pay than similar companies in the area, subsidized this, etc) that would never have appeared without the threat of a union org drive.

      Granted unions went, and still go, bananas and that’s unreasonable too. There needs to be a balance between the powers of the company and that of the union.

      • 0 avatar

        Quantum Cowboy, +1

      • 0 avatar

        “There needs to be a balance between the powers of the company and that of the union.”

        + 1,000,000

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Which is why workers should be able to unionize. Unfortunately, that doesn’t explain the UAW or what it does or the modern legislation around unions. You get a better balance under right to work laws, and avoid what is actually a theft under guise of “rights” in shop law states.

        Those who want to change every law to suit a purpose are strangely hypocritical on labor laws. Modern media makes it much harder to abuse hundreds of workers and not get noticed yet we pretend that we are still liable to get 19th century results without the new laws.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Exactly.

        The story above points out the UAW invention of “job banks,” which is a very valid point in the piece.

        However, it also ignores history. When the credit markets froze solid in September of 2008 grinding the global economy to an almost complete stop – Toyota stood by their promise to not layoff workers. Agreed, there was no “union,” in place to get that deal.

        So what did Toyota do with idled San Antonio workers; with a line built to crank out 250K Tundras a year when it was only making about 90K?

        Workers watched PowerPoint presentations about Toyota history. They planted flowers outside the plant in “beautification” projects. They had “discussions” on process improvement. They painted.

        You know – they sat around, making their full salary doing the same work that, lets face it, in San Antonio, some $7.25 an hour worker with very questionable immigration papers would normally do.

        By any definition it was a job bank.

        Now, if Toyota had instead said, “you know what, we know we told you we would never do layoffs but times are hard, so don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” you don’t think for one second the work force wouldn’t be SCREAMING for a union?!?

        Toyota did the right thing (and I stress, for the obtuse, this is not a dis on Toyota, I’m only pointing out history) by sticking to their word. It’s commendable. But would Toyota have stuck to their word had the big bad boogie man of the UAW did not exist?

        I think not. I believe, had the specter of a possible move to unionization as a backlash to breaking a management promise had not existed – the chances, CHANCES, would have been much higher that Toyota would have shed those employees.

        At the end of the day – those workers sat in a job bank. To then say, well at least they planted flowers and watched PowerPoints would be a dubious justification of the value of their work versus their salary.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Keeping workers around in such a manner also maintains morale, trust, and saves on any later new hire training/orientation costs or retraining costs (assuming workers are recalled from a layoff when/if business picks up). I’m not sure what the real purpose of the UAW jobs bank was, if it accomplished to above goals or more the result of an entitlement mentality.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            Like everything else – I would like to believe the job bank was created to help soften the curves of up and down production – a noble idea, where for the same reasons you indicated above, made sense. Over time I think it became something very perverse where the incompetent were protected.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            The UAW job bank was created as a luddite attempt to fight automation and efficiency in Big-3 plants. “Reduced customer demand” did not qualify workers to enter the job bank. However, the UAW job bank program specified that:

            “Eligible employees cannot be laid off because of:

            • Introduction of new technology (such as robots)
            • Sourcing decisions
            • Company-implemented efficiency actions”

            http://www.carlist.com/autonews/2005/autonews_164.html

            The job bank was a way for the UAW to punish US automakers for improving automation and efficiency. In fairness the Big-3 were stupid enough to agree to the job bank to avoid massive strikes. But the job bank shows the kind of competitive disadvantage the UAW was happy to put the Big-3 under to preserve outdated jobs.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thx for the info. The link claims this agreement dates to 1987, and while Chrysler then was still in resurgence, Ford had just introduced the critical Taurus and GM was teetering toward its near bankruptcy in 1992. The latter two would have probably agreed to anything in order to buy time.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Legislation can often come from a bad place. Like politicians seeing an opportunity to consolidate power, or buckling to the irresistable charm of the multi billion dollar lobbying industry. Just because something is a law doesn’t make it a good idea.

      While it’s true there are a lot of good labor laws there are some bad ones. Like the laws that forced domestic manufacturers to operate under UAW rule in the first place. As the various, more profitable, better run non-union shops in the US show, they serve no purpose here.

    • 0 avatar
      ellomdian

      ‘Had’. The ‘still have’ is the big debate.

      On one side, the Unions would like us to believe if they go away, we will suddenly find ourselves in proto-industrial-revolution living conditions.

      On the other, the Big Bad Business wants us to believe the unions are corrupt entities sabotaging production and sleeping on the job.

      Somewhere in the middle is likely the actual truth. Organized labor clearly drove some of the most important social reform related to the workplace in the 20th century. Is it still necessary in an age when any individual has a platform in which they can express themselves to thousands (if not millions) of citizens, and in which the very appearance of impropriety can affect a companies bottom line almost instantly?

      • 0 avatar

        ellomdian, that’s a fair and good question. I also think your thinking is quite correct. The truth is always somewhere in the middle. However, there’s still the question of economic might. Though we may not live in the day that that famous American entrpeneur (Hearst-?) said that, “want an opinion, buy a newspaper”, the tables have not been squared. The strength of the little guy is still in numbers. But numbers are nothing if they are not organized and pointed in a coherent direction. Unions in the US may or may not have been pointing in the “right” direction, but the need for the little guy to organize in order to be heard is still there.

        • 0 avatar
          CRConrad

          @Marcelo de Vasconcellos: “I also think your thinking is quite correct. The truth is always somewhere in the middle.”

          No, not always. You also have the false dichotomies, which some American media outlets are very fond of: “Is President Obama just an ordinary American, like he tries to maintain, or actually a lizard alien from outer space who eats babies? OK, let’s agree the the truth is somewhere in the middle — he’s just a Kenyan Communist in the pay of bin Laden and George Soros.”

    • 0 avatar
      jbreuckm

      Amen Marcelo.

      The truth about unions lies somewhere in between the two viewpoints presented here today. It’s easy to cherry pick the worst abuses of management or of the unions, but the key to preventing egregious abuses on one side or another is a reasonable balance of power. I suspect that without the work of unions in this country and others in the past, and the present imperative to not create an environment that would breed union sympathies, that the foreign manufacturers may not voluntarily treat their workers so well. Perhaps they would…perhaps.

      Nonetheless, it’s easy to look at the playing field that exists today and to assume that it has always been that way, when in fact it was created by the work of our fathers and grandfathers, and upon their shoulders we stand.

  • avatar
    Atum

    Good job. Anonymous people seem to write great things.

    • 0 avatar
      dartman

      Atum, I strongly disagree. It is easy to express strong opinions behind the cloak of anonymity, but ultimately it is a cowardly and intellectually dis-honest act; if one truly believes in what they write then what are they afraid of? If the writer had said who he/she was and what in their background formulated their opinion, I may disagree with them but I would definitely respect their willingness to stand front and center and publicly express it. As it is I consider this just another rant by any one of a hundred hoople-heads that frequent TTS, no real credibility, just more noise and BS, kind of like a Jerry Springer episode.

      Now, I understand this may seem like a case of the pot calling the kettle black, but as posters, you and I are not expressing an editorial opinion that I can only assume has been vetted/endorsed by the editors, we are just responding to the opinion expressed.
      If one asks to take the the podium/microphone/camera and address the entire audience they should be required to at least state their name and background, if not stay in the audience with rest of the rabble.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        I fall somewhere in between. I take big exception to this…

        … It ensured that every automobile built by its employees during a time when American automakers were in the fight of their lives came out of the factory at the highest possible labor cost while simultaneously offering the lowest possible quality, often because the cars were sabotaged by overpaid workers who were encouraged to despise their employer, their product, and their customer…

        I mean wait a minute. The UAW workers who built those Iron Dukes, the A and G bodies, the U body minivans, F body crap machine Camaros and Firebirds, the ones who built the Ford EXP, the Ford Tempo. It was the UAW that gave us the physical abomination that was the Aztek? It was the UAW that gutted the Fiero project and forced engineers to pull “off the shelf” because damn it, thou shalt not build anything better than a Corvette! It was the UAW that looked at what was happening at Saturn and said, “oh Hell no,” and forced badge engineered products and malaise? The UAW designed the Elsmere 54 degree V6? The CVTs in the Saturn VUE? The UAW designed the diesel Olds? The UAW designed the 4-6-8 Cadillac? The UAW put the gas tank behind the rear axle on the Pinto? The UAW kept slapping 3-speed automatics in FWD econoboxes while the Japanese were putting in 4-speeds and 5-speed autos? The UAW hung plastic cladding, RS, SS, SXT, SRT, and GT badges on cars and trucks that didn’t deserve any such designation? The UAW decided that an ancient 4.0L V6 made for trucks was “good enough” for the V6 Mustang? The UAW put the 3.8L V6 in the Ford Thunderbird, making the car so underpowered that the engines committed suicide? The UAW designed the Chrysler 2.7 V6??? The UAW went with self-destructing timing belts in the Ford 1.6 and 1.9 4-bangers? The UAW decided to let the Festiva see the light of day? The Pontiac LeMans (the 1980s’ version). They came up with marketing names like Status? They came up with the aborted ad campaigns for the Mercury Capri 2+2 convertible? Or the Merkur line? Heck, they designed the self-destructing electronics in the Merkur??? Heck did the UAW BUILD the Merkur line??? Did the UAW come up with the Cimmaron? The Pontiac Torrent? Or any other of an endless list of American penalty boxes on wheels built from 1972 to about 2004ish? They picked plastic manifolds at Ford and GM? They picked Dexcool that eat those same manifolds at GM?

        REALLY? That was the UAWs fault?!?

        They put the cars together – based on the bean counting, craptastic designs of their management. Plain and simple. They couldn’t have sabotaged the vehicles if they wanted to. The designs were overall so freakin’ bad – they were doomed for failure out of the gate.

        To say that these egregious design and quality issues that span all of the Detroit former big three goes beyond rewriting history – it is fantasy.

        The worker at the factory puts Tab A into Slot B. That’s it. It is not their fault if Tab A breaks 3% of the time you even touch it, and Slot B actually doesn’t exist but you can use Fastner F instead, sort of.

        That lies right at the feet of the accountants and leadership who said, “ehhh, we can build whatever we want and they’ll still buy it.”

        That arrogance of management, especially at GM, is well documented. The workers were along for the ride to Hell.

        • 0 avatar
          Atum

          Derek said the other viewpoint would be coming, and it came. I had second thoughts once I made that comment; sometimes, anonymous folks such as philosophers say good things, but for a major subject such as the UAW, it’d be better to have an identity. I agree.

        • 0 avatar
          E46M3_333

          “The designs were overall so freakin’ bad – they were doomed for failure out of the gate.”

          Do you think they’d have been able to hire better engineers or otherwise invest more in R&D to improve the designs if they were not forced to pay above-market wages to line workers?
          .
          .

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            It didn’t matter – as one can read up on the Fiero as a great example. The engineers were building within the constraints of the bean counters. They KNEW they were designing a steaming pile of crap because the bean counters wouldn’t give them the resources to engineer it properly.

            Who signed those UAW contracts in the first place? That’s right – the bean counters.

            The could have said GFY at any point. What engineer would have said with a smile, why yes plastic manifolds and Dexcool make a perfectly loving combination.

            Lots of former insiders have come out from the former big three pointing out how they were told TFB over and over again.

            One can look at Toyota and BMW as companies that are being hammered by bean counters right now. It’s not hate – but no one can point to say a ’96 Camry versus a ’14 Camry from a material quality, build quality, and engineering quality stand point and not see the ’14 is decontented, corners cut, and budget materials used. Yes, its “safer,” yes, its “bigger,” but in sheer cost structure – it sure it isn’t better. Ditto for BMW, and USA VW products.

            It doesn’t matter what continent they are from – bean counters are the bane of engineering and the bane of quality. I’ll point to Jack’s editorial piece about software development in the new world order as a great example of bean counters run amok.

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            What’s the actual cost in labor and benefits when it comes to the design and execution of a car? 10, 20 or 40 or 50% of the cost of the vehicle? How much of that labor cost goes to the line workers and how much to the other guys?

          • 0 avatar
            vtecJustKickedInYo

            APaGttH,

            I would have agreed with you about a year ago until I started engineering in the Automotive sector.

            The problem is that engineers have to extensively justify every single penny increase in an engine design. If the benefits out weight the cost then it is implemented. If engineers were in charge and not cooperate, items like intakes, valve covers, oil pans, and thermostat housings would be aluminum. But plastic is lighter, cheaper, creates better airflow, and as long as it passes validation and infant care it will be put on an engine.

            Regarding the deterioration of plastic nylon and dexcool(speaking from porsche cayenne perspective). Plastic nylon took about 20000 hours to deteriorate from coolant. It would be impossible with the time and resource constraints to validate an intake by running an engine straight for 2 years. Saying GFY would get you fired because its your Job to make it work.

            However, you get an engine that is cheaper to build and does the exact same job as an engine that would be a full cost even though its not exactly what you wanted

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            @vtecJustKickedInYo

            You wrote…

            …The problem is that engineers have to extensively justify every single penny increase in an engine design. If the benefits out weight the cost then it is implemented. If engineers were in charge and not cooperate, items like intakes, valve covers, oil pans, and thermostat housings would be aluminum…

            Doesn’t this completely agree with what I just said. Engineers have to justify every penny. They don’t call the shots – the beancounters do.

            Hence we get “good enough” software code and Porsche SUVs get nylon manifolds. Toyotas got CTS gas pedals with a “good enough” saved a couple of pennies design over Denso, etc. etc. etc.

            Beancounters suck. I get costs can’t be unlimited. We’re probably capable of building vehicles that don’t have planned obsolesce engineered in. There are many engineering improvements that save money and time, that on the surface look like a step backwards.

            But the auto industry has countless examples from the best manufacturers to the worst, where corners were cut with dubious results all in the name of making accountants and shareholders happy.

            Even when no expense is spared, there can still be issues (immolating Lambos, dubious street reliability of Aston Martin, etc. etc.). Of course in those last cases, if you have the bucks, you likely don’t care.

        • 0 avatar
          TheAnswerIsPolara

          I’ve restored my share of Detroit’s finest from the big three from the 40′s through the 60′s. I can tell you multiple ways those assemblers can — and do — ruin the reputation of the marques. Many of the cars didn’t have fasteners installed from the factory. How about Aspens with Volare’ emblems?

          The engineers have a special place (that I won’t mention) for not providing enough room to remove a starter from Ford Big Blocks. Don’t get me started with Chrysler’s Lean Burn System.

          My point is, there’s plenty of blame to go around.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The assembly process comes from management.

            There were two fundamental assembly-related problems that were associated with traditional mass production: QC was was left to the end of the line, and output mattered more than low defect rates.

            Leaving QC for the end makes it easier to make mistakes, as they can be buried within the car. And judging a factory by output causes the plant managers to focus on volume instead of defect rates and warranty issues.

            This is management’s fault. The workers don’t run the plant. Laborers who argue for ideas that are contrary to those of their bosses have a nasty habit of getting fired.

            Here’s a question for Mikey, if he’s reading this: During your early days at Oshawa, if a guy working on the line asked that the line be stopped in order to fix a defect that he spotted on a car moving on the line, how would have his bosses responded to that request?

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            Pch101 is on fire today on this thread. I completely agree with him.

            In the Big Three factories calling out defects on the floor was a good way to become unemployed. Management attitude was, “it can be fixed at the dealer,” a point highlighted quite poignantly in the movie, Gung Ho, of which the picture for this story comes from.

            In comparison, Toyota management encouraged workers and enabled them to stop the line if they saw an issue, and encouraged them to come up with better ways of assembly. This is one of the pillars of LEAN manufacturing.

            These aren’t union versus non-union worker issues. The Big Three cared about one thing – get them out of the plant and to the dealers, period. The dealer can fix the problem. That was management, not the workers.

        • 0 avatar
          mikey

          A standing ovation!!!!! So very well said.

          My question? Why didn’t Mr “anonymous” the temp dude ever go full time?

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            @ PCH 101…To answer your question. The boss’s response would go something like this.

            YOU WANNA DO F–KN WHAT? . IF YA GET IN YOUR HEAD TO PUSH THAT F KEN BUTTON, JUST KEEP WALKIN RIGHT OUT THE DOOR”

            Now get your sorry a$$ back to your job, or i’ll write you up”

        • 0 avatar
          johnny ro

          As Stalin said, there is plenty of blame to go around.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          To some extent, yes, all of that was the UAWs fault. Because if your labor costs are $1500 per car higher than your competition, then that is $1500 that you cannot spend on making the car better.

          I rarely blame the individual union member for anything (though there are certainly plenty of stories of sabotage and whatnot), they are just average Joes and Joelenes doing a job. But I certainly think that the Union as an organization had a major impact on the downfall of the Detroit 3. Inept management plus a hostile union is a recipe for disaster.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The $1,500 thing sounds like press conference, pass-the-buck nonsense.

            I’ve never seen hard support for the figure, and I frankly doubt that GM knows enough about the granular aspects of its rivals’ costs in order to make that aasertion with any certainty.

            I can tell you that GM had lower operating costs per unit than Toyota prior to the bankruptcy. The problem was that the revenue shortfall per unit amounted to several thousand dollars per unit.

            Had Toyota been selling cars at GM prices, then Toyota would have been losing money, too. GM had devalued and tarnished its brands to the point that it had to move cars at a loss just so that the inventory didn’t rot on the lot.

        • 0 avatar
          Yeah_right

          Management can, and should be, fired for incompetence. Whoever approve the “angry toaster” look of the Aztek deserves the Soprano treatment. They are accountable.

          why shouldn’t the workers have the same accountability?

    • 0 avatar

      > Good job. Anonymous people seem to write great things.

      Absolutely, for those who love riveting propaganda for Honda:

      “Most of them started as “temps”, earning ten bucks an hour to do simple labor, but now they earn twenty-five or thirty dollars an hour or more. Their managers are often recruited from the factory floor, not from a fancy Michigan MBA system that perpetuates an officer/enlisted division between management and labor. Seniority is irrelevant. “

  • avatar

    Small wonder that Canadian Honda workers have rejected the CAW time and time again.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/207595661/UAW-Lean-Times

    This document backed by an actual individual who is an expert on the UAW and the auto industry (as I am not, I work mostly in public unions and educational unions) basically undermined a great deal of what this ‘anonymous’ person said. Perhaps in a strange way this ‘anonymous’ person has less authority to argue as they describe an UAW that is seemingly all-powerful when the experts on the subject never seem to agree to that assessment.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Thanks for the link.

    • 0 avatar
      gmichaelj

      Indeed. The problem with ‘Anonymous’ is the same problem as with ‘TTAC Staff:’ we don’t know where he gets his knowledge, and can’t surmise how he comes to his conclusions or judge his expertise or his authority.

      • 0 avatar

        Sometimes we have to protect people’s anonymity.

        • 0 avatar
          gmichaelj

          Well then I’ll just skip these bylines then.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          Do you? From who? Is this person perhaps an Union worker? Otherwise it seems they’re firmly in the right-wing corporate sector and most likely very safe from any repercussions. It doesn’t seem like they would work for any leftist groups or work with unions. If anything this sounds like a comfortable hit piece that lacks substance (besides the argument that companies will do right by their workers…without giving them a rational reason). So, at the end of the day, why NOT admit the name? Give us a chance to see their credentials and judge their validity…

          • 0 avatar

            Because attaching their name to it could negatively impact their livelihood.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            What is their livelihood atleast then? Are they an union worker? I’m not asking for a name, but give us something to go on.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            From their bosses. They make a living selling their labor. They don’t have tenure.

            The writer is representing a view point. It’s not a journalistic piece so he doesn’t provide balance, and not scholarly so it’s not written to meet those standards. Certainly, a worker upset about unsafe working conditions or having opinions that fit your narrative would have a need for anonymity. Why not this person?

            If you doubt that there are a lot of union workers with similar opinions I think it’s you that has credibility problems. If you doubt that being outed as the author would have no repercussions or that demanding identity is not squashing dissent then I am pretty sure you are a hypocrite.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Actually I know in the blue-collar unions conservative views run rampant, largely around race and class issues. They want the union protection but still vote republican in many elections. This isn’t a majority mind you, most breaks are around 70/30 Democrat/left-leaning because that’s actually how most cleavages break normally.

            The whole point is this article certainly makes insinuations and without a reasonable “I’m actually an UAW official” and not just some rank-and-file who has an axe to grind I find it hard to believe.

            If you think by demanding a name I’m squashing decent you must live in a wonderful place where the corporations have no vested interest in keeping the people with less money quiet. I bet you also believe that donors to political campaigns and Super PACs shouldn’t have to admit who they are either?

            Please, I’m not asking for a definitive name, I’m asking for a where and why. Otherwise it comes across as a mere hit piece for a right-leaning website.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            …Because attaching their name to it could negatively impact their livelihood…

            The irony is not lost on me.

            I’m going to write a piece railing against unions, but don’t use my name because I could lose my ability to earn a living if people find out I wrote it.

          • 0 avatar

            > Because attaching their name to it could negatively impact their livelihood.

            This doesn’t address the question and I suspect it’s not going to be addressed because the simple answer is either that nobody bothered to check the veracity of his background, or worse. The author’s writing style in no way resembles that of any typical blue collar temp as the intro implies.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            It doesn’t make any difference what side you are on. When you have an opinion, there are people who will hold it against you. Unions may protect their members from wrongful persecution, but we all know they have also do e plenty of persecuting as well. The biggest irony is that we now have big and powerful unions squashing the workers. Of course, it’s not unexpected so it’s really tragedy. The progressives have always claimed to protect the weak against the powerful while really just trying to change who has the power.

        • 0 avatar
          jbreuckm

          Then, respectfully, get somebody else who doesn’t need anonymity.

          Anonymity is for blind gossip items.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Attacking the author for failing to state his name is a copout. Writing with pen names and anonymously is an old tradition, and there are a variety of motivations for doing it. (It’s not as if we know who you are, either.)

            His identity doesn’t make any difference, either way. In any case, the work fails to stand on its own, and the content and tone are easy enough to dispute without knowing the name of whoever wrote it.

          • 0 avatar
            86er

            In my view, this is an abuse of the practice of protecting sources. If the author had some great scoop or inside knowledge, I could let it slide, but otherwise the cop-out is as follows:

            This anonymity was furnished to avoid union organizing reprisals in the United States, plus the old gentleman’s agreement in the auto industry that you don’t openly snipe at each other’s business practices.

          • 0 avatar
            DC Bruce

            And your real name is what?

          • 0 avatar
            rushn

            @DC Bruce

            What, you need to be told the difference between an article writer under the slogan of TTAC and random commenter?

          • 0 avatar

            > His identity doesn’t make any difference, either way. In any case, the work fails to stand on its own, and the content and tone are easy enough to dispute without knowing the name of whoever wrote it.

            It does rather matter if TTAC either failed to take due diligence on who’s actually writing this, or doesn’t care.

        • 0 avatar
          CRConrad

          But then you don’t have to give them a platform.

      • 0 avatar

        +1 gmichaelj

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      Is this the counterpoint to Kitman? If so, color me underwhelmed.

      Edit: comment was directed at the article, not the commment. Strange it placed it in-line in the middle.

      • 0 avatar
        kmoney

        +1 The need for anonymity made me come here expecting to read insights from someone close to or related to/affected by the actual deal. This is largely just an opinion piece, which doesn’t really contain anything that couldn’t be gleaned from secondary sources.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        cackalacka: Is this the counterpoint to Kitman? If so, color me underwhelmed.

        Neither Kitman’s article nor this one is particularly illuminating or even all that interesting. It’s as though both writers simply scrolled through the comments on this site, arranged them into paragraph form, added a few flourishes of their own, and called it a day.

        At this point, it’s time to move on…before this site becomes the thetruthaboutunions.

        It’s to the point where I’m hoping that GM management does something particularly boneheaded in the coming days so that we have a new subject to obsess about.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          We often disagree, but I largely agree with you here.

          What’s missing in these articles is factual information about what the workers are thinking. I see a lot of people on both sides projecting their own hopes and fears into this, but not much insight into the various voting blocs within the VW plant itself. I would personally like to stop speculating, and start learning more about why the vote turned out as it did.

          I would suggest that someone at TTAC contact Mike Pare, who has been covering this beat for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He is probably in a better position than most to provide some insights into this story. (I would imagine that he couldn’t be published here, given his job with the paper, but an interview could be good.)

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Yes, it would be nice to hear from someone who has actually studied the situation, and is “close to the ground,” instead of outsiders interpreting the results through their own biases.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Your original link doesn’t work. I googled “UAW Lean Times” and found a straightforward story that recounted the results of the election and included Mr. King’s statements. It certainly doesn’t refute this article’s contents, but it doesn’t look as though it was meant to.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      After he quoted the janitorial salary, I stopped reading. It’s not fact (it’s been contract for a long time) and this guy spouts off more than I do.

      Edit: read the rest of it. Got sucked in by the comments

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @tresmonos…..You I know both know, where this writer got his info . He read in book somewhere, and pulled most of his “facts” from out of his a$$

        Sorry Derek I call B.S on Mr Anon’s contribution.

    • 0 avatar
      Don Mynack

      So, in other words, this writer needs their “card-checked”?

  • avatar
    balreadysaid

    This is a fine piece that really will help a bunch getting the word out about how corrupt everything is in America!

  • avatar
    Verbal

    Unionized mass production labor is a dying breed in this country.

    The trajectory of the UAW closely parallels that of the International Association of Machinists. IAM Local 751 represents Boeing machinists in the state of Washington.

    There is a distinct division between the union leadership and the rank and file. The leaders are old school: combative, entitled, fighting for the perpetuation of the union rather than for the good of the workers it purports to represent.

    At one time labor unions served a purpose. But we are no longer talking about nine-year olds working in coal mines. Unions the likes of the UAW and IAM can’t go away fast enough.

    • 0 avatar
      philipwitak

      re: Verbal / February 18th, 2014 at 12:35 pm / “…we are no longer talking about nine-year olds working in coal mines.”

      no – now we’re talking about middle-aged dudes with college degrees flipping burgers at mcdonalds. people working hard, many at full-time jobs and still unable to escape poverty.

      capital is no friend of labor. business is no friend of labor. the republican party is no friend to labor. and with the death of union representation over the last forty years has come the death of the american middle class.

      the death of the american dream.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        The percentage of the workforce that was also claimed union membership peaked in 1953 (at roughly 35 percent), and has continuously declined ever since. (Meanwhile, wages kept increasing after that point, and the purchasing power of workers peaked in 1971.)

        • 0 avatar
          CRConrad

          So?

          All that means is, his sentence should have read “and with the death of union representation over the last sixty years has come the death of the american middle class.”

          HTH!

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            If the level of union membership is steadily DECLINING, while worker wages and purchasing power are INCREASING, then that puts a big dent in the claim that unions are responsible for the creation of the middle class.

            There is no correlation between the level of union membership and the state of the middle class.

          • 0 avatar
            CRConrad

            Sure there is a correlation. There’s just a rather large temporal lag in the causation.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            When pay increases while union membership continually decreases, one cannot attribute it to a lag.

            The decline was caused by increased foreign competition.

            Immediately after World War II, the United States was the only major industrial power with its industrial base intact. The industrial bases of Europe, Japan and the Soviet Union had been heavily damaged. The Soviet Union and China then chose to hobble themselves by adopting the communist system, giving the United States another advantage.

            In that environment, American companies in various industries – steel, heavy equipment, auto and rubber, in particular – enjoyed virtual monopolies. Workers benefited as management agreed to the demands of unions to keep the plants running. Any extra costs were simply passed on to consumers.

            By the early 1970s, Europe and Japan were back on their feet, and, in the case of Japan, with much better production and management systems.

            Couple that with the effects of the first oil shock, which exposed how obsolete much of the country’s industrial base really was, and it’s no surprise that wage increases stopped in the early 1970s.

          • 0 avatar

            > while worker wages and purchasing power are INCREASING

            They increased significantly after WWII due to a heavy industrial expansion created by that ol’ reliable formula of making a lot of crap to blow up and throw away. All ideologues against central planning should ponder that for a while.

            You’ll note that they also haven’t increased much since the institution of trickle-down whereby most newly created wealth (~80%) goes to the top. Consider that adage “follow the money” and contrast where the wealth lie now vs. then and why: http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

            > The decline was caused by increased foreign competition. By the early 1970s, Europe and Japan were back on their feet, and, in the case of Japan, with much better production and management systems.

            Yet only Japan was able to achieve penetration, with a product so much better that labor costs frankly didn’t matter. Is this also somehow attributable to the union boogeyman (recall japan was also heavily unionized)? In any case, most wage protection including your own is done by the gubmint via restricted immigration policy. Most people wouldn’t be talking so big should their own wages be cut in half if the free trade of labor were instituted.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            agenthex: They increased significantly after WWII due to a heavy industrial expansion created by that ol’ reliable formula of making a lot of crap to blow up and throw away. All ideologues against central planning should ponder that for a while.

            The country was saved by the fact that the rest of the industrialized world was flat on its back, as I pointed out in my post.

            Anyone advocating central planning needs to consider that the unique position enjoyed by the United States following World War II is not applicable to today’s circumstances, and certainly doesn’t prove that central planning is the answer.

            agenthex: You’ll note that they also haven’t increased much since the institution of trickle-down whereby most newly created wealth (~80%) goes to the top. Consider that adage “follow the money” and contrast where the wealth lie now vs. then and why: http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

            A phenomenon that has occurred in other countries that did not institute policies pursued by Ronald Reagan.

            agenthex: Yet only Japan was able to achieve penetration, with a product so much better that labor costs frankly didn’t matter.

            Labor costs in Japan were initially much lower than those in the United States at that time. That was a sore point with the UAW and management, and one reason why they both pushed for protectionist measures in the early 1980s. In response, the Reagan Administration enacted temporary import quotas that restricted the number of vehicles that the Japanese auto makers could import to the U.S.

            The quotes ultimately backfired, as the Japanese were encouraged to move upmarket by creating Acura, Infiniti and Lexus, and expand their North American production base.

            agenthex: Is this also somehow attributable to the union boogeyman (recall japan was also heavily unionized)?

            The Japanese auto unions are more like company unions, which have been banned in this country by the Wagner Act.

            The faction of the Japanese autoworkers’ union that favored direct confrontation with the companies was broken in a bitter strike against Nissan in the early 1950s.

            Since that strike, the Japanese unions have not been comparable to the UAW during its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s.

            agenthex: Most people wouldn’t be talking so big should their own wages be cut in half if the free trade of labor were instituted.

            Which is why a fair number of mean old conservatives, along with old-school blue collar liberals, have opposed both illegal immigration, along with the attempts at immigration reform proposed by both parties at different points during the past 10-12 years.

          • 0 avatar

            > The country was saved by the fact that the rest of the industrialized world was flat on its back, as I pointed out in my post.

            That’s the ol’ standby arg completely busted by the reality that most consumption was internal, and it was so so much better than before the massive forced industrialization. Face it, even building nothing but stuff to throw away for years was irrelevant compared having that infrastructure which no capitalist would’ve financed pre-war.

            > A phenomenon that has occurred in other countries that did not institute policies pursued by Ronald Reagan.

            It was never implied that Ronald Reagan was unique in his approach. Wealth inequality is the norm without egalitarian counteraction. This shouldn’t be news given its historical ubiquity.

            > Labor costs in Japan were initially much lower than those in the United States at that time.

            Is that why their product was so much better? Surely given the conversations above you of all people should realize that labor cost wasn’t the deciding factor.

            > The Japanese auto unions are more like company unions, which have been banned in this country by the Wagner Act.

            Given the two parties who held this antagonistic relationship, which was the one who held the reins to the product mentioned just above? Did you expect the union to decide: “hey these guys are crushing us on quality, let’s start drawing up better cars and statistical control processes”. Hopefully the folly in spreading blame equally akin to “all odds are 50/50″ is apparent.

            > Which is why a fair number of mean old conservatives, along with old-school blue collar liberals, have opposed both illegal immigration

            We’re not talking about the racist side of the equation, this is about the fact that the gubmint is the ultimate big union propping up all american wages:

            http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/australian-supplier-association-warns-of-33000-jobs-lost-in-wake-of-producer-exits/#comment-2794273

      • 0 avatar
        E46M3_333

        “capital is no friend of labor. business is no friend of labor. the republican party is no friend to labor.”

        Baloney.
        .
        .

        • 0 avatar
          philipwitak

          really? since when is the ‘friendship’ i am referencing based on little more than greedy, aggressive, self-serving exploitation?

          please elaborate…

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Some employees may see things that way, but many others see their employment relationship with their employer as a win-win.

            There are employees out there who see themselves as more than just slaves and actually enjoy their work.

      • 0 avatar
        carve

        Capital is no friend to labor? Then why don’t they turn their back on that capital investment and go into business for themselves?

        The answer is because they’re more productive and don’t have to take the big risks when they use those capital resources. Otherwise, they would do it on their own.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    It took a minority of parasitic UAW members a generation to wreak the same havoc that CEOs like chain saw Al did in a few quarters.
    The enterprise needs cleaning in the brain and in the colon .

  • avatar

    What a crock of shit.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      And it is all brought about by the unlikely outcome of the workers’ vote rejecting representation by the UAW.

      Had the vote gone the other way, we would now have a crock of a totally different color, yet still reeking of the same stench.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    We’ve missed you Bertel,

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      lol, the article made some reasonable points which were undermined by some gratuitous political comments that were unnecessary.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Yup – that was my point. Also the high praise for the Civic and the ILX – the ILX specifically.

        It doesn’t matter if the ILX is made of pure unobtanium with a sealed engine that will run for 1/2 a million miles with no service. The sucker isn’t selling. But the handful that are built each month I’m sure are quality units.

        Meanwhile, in UAW land, the Verano, as reported right here in TTAC, owns the compact luxury/near-luxury segment with 42% of the segment sales. Admittedly, that has probably dropped closer to 30% of the segment now with the success of the CLA, which wasn’t for sale when TTAC ran the story (but I would LOVE to see another Cain’s segment on this point)

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    I just wanted to say I love the movie “Gung Ho”. Thanks for the picture.

    “I understand you’re doing some hiring down in the galveston plant…..Hey, I can jump in a car right now and be down there in 29 hours”

    [that\'s probably only funny when Michael Keaton says it]

  • avatar
    92golf

    I would agree with some of the points made in this piece and disagree with others (as I did with the previous argument).

    I’d like to point out however that none of those contracts that the big auto manufacturers signed with the UAW were signed by only one side. It takes two to tango and while it was the unions job to look after the interests of its’ members it was the companys job to look after its’ own interests.

    I think it’s unlikely that the companies hired people with little ability to negotiate on their behalf while the unions hired smart people.

    Both sides are at fault and both sides are paying the price for believing that the future would continue as in the past.

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      Negotiation is the label, but the interact is far more like a mugger saying give me your money or I’ll hit you over the head with this club (the strike).

      With SUB pay, the union could strike one strategic plant, say an oxygen sensor plant, and force the entire company to lay everyone off paying them 95% of their pay.

      The power equation is extremely one sided in favor of the union.

      • 0 avatar
        92golf

        I get what you’re saying but again, I’m not sure I entirely agree. I think that when you get to the bottom of it the manufacturers simply didn’t want to make the waves they needed to rein in the excess.

        I think it’s the nature of people to want more and the unions kept asking until everything fell apart.

        I’m sure there were many many meetings held at the automakers where some held out for making a stand and others looked at the numbers and pointed out that they could continue to make a significant profit even with the higher wages. The will to make a change simply wasn’t there.

        Since the union wouldn’t do it the manufacturers’ had a responsibility to be the grownups and to look at all possibilities. I think it was short sighted not to look at the possibility of the economy getting worse and/or the competition improving but that was the route not taken.

        Hindsight isn’t always 20/20 but I think that if cooler heads could have prevailed we would all be in a better place. They didn’t and we aren’t and so we’re stuck with the circumstances we have. Hopefully the lessons learned will stick.

        -thanks!

        • 0 avatar
          doctor olds

          What excess do you think the companies could have reigned in and are you aware how many $10s of billions strikes cost the Automakers over the years?
          As for labor relations a popular professor described it thusly. “The union bangs its fist on the table and demands “MORE! NOW!” and management’s response is always, “You can have whatever you want, just don’t touch our pocketbook.”

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    “Their managers are often recruited from the factory floor, not from a fancy Michigan MBA system that perpetuates an officer/enlisted division between management and labor. Seniority is irrelevant.”

    I think this is one of the more important sentences in the piece. The college educated professionals that support VW unionization aren’t in unions themselves because they see themselves as special, and performing unique work, and deserving of evaluation based on individual merit.

    They think they are supporting the factory workers. But in fact they are looking down on them as lesser people that cannot excel individually, and whose only hope of a good living is to be represented as a homogeneous group that can only rise with seniority.

    I think there is a lot of looking down at workers going on in VW’s union support. Why else would a company support a union? Hey you dirty line workers, ve don’t vant to deal with you as individuals. Please have money deducted from your paychecks to pay a college educated union representative to speak to us on your behalf. Ve von’t pay you any better, but at least ve von’t have to deal with you in person.

    The VW workers said no, we aren’t going to deal with you through a union, you will have to deal with us individually like the Japanese transplants.

    • 0 avatar
      Short Bus

      This is exactly why I’ve always wondered why school teachers desire to be in a union. Do school teachers view themselves in such a poor light that they are incapable of performing in a way which is worthy of individual merritt? How can someone who took the time and put in the effort to acquire a professional degree NOT want the freedom to negotiate your own salary based on your skills and accompishments? It seems so backwards to me.

      • 0 avatar
        Conslaw

        @Shortbus

        I’ll tell you why teachers would want to be in a union: bad bosses and clueless district offices. Even poor unions do one useful thing, they protect against ARBITRARY discharge. If I invest in an education and move my family to take a job, I don’t think it is unrealistic to expect that if I am going to be fired that it be done with due process. Often time employers are afraid to fire a unionized employee because they don’t want to have their own conduct scrutinized. That’s a problem with bad bosses, not bad unions. Another reason for unions: limited job mobility. There are a lot of industries where the vast majority of the workers are on a certain production or service tier – and that’s where they should be. That’s fine, but as workers get older there’s pressure to to move them aside for younger and cheaper employees. When this happens, the older employee can be practically unemployable. If you want to get cast aside with no protection when you are 40, 50, 60, that’s fine, I’m sure not everyone feels the same way. In away, providing for the older workers is simply a way to keep the job from imposing external societal costs.

        • 0 avatar

          Well said Conslaw. That’s the fallacy of ultra liberal (from a world perspective, I think in America you guys called it conservative) thinking. It’s all very rational and good, though somehow always leads to a widening gap between rich and poor and diminished possibilities for those who are not the “It” of the moment (Infirm, young, old, fat, ugly, whatever).

          As a French jurist once wrote, “freedom between unequals is tyranny and the law is freedom”. Give the law some muscle with union backing and I believe freedom is better served.

        • 0 avatar
          bullnuke

          Absolutely correct. The Teacher’s Unions are necessary to protect teachers. In one California district that my children attended the teachers were protected from supervising the class when not actively presenting material – unpaid parent volunteers were required to watch the students while the teachers retired to the lounge for coffee and donuts between each period of active instruction.

          • 0 avatar

            > Because of that they get well beyond the wages and benefits actually required to fill positions with talented candidates.

            In a free market to a large extent you’ll get what you pay for, incl labor. It’s certainly possible to get someone to stand up in front of a classroom for not very much, but the question is whether that’s someone who you want doing the job.

            The problem is that ideologues don’t think much since they’re too busy justifying few simpleton beliefs they hold dear. They’ll never learn anything, which is unfortunate because it’s pretty certain these teachers taught them better at some point in time. To wit:

            > They negotiate with politicians that they have already bribed with political contributions.

            It’s it nice too see someone from that side of the political spectrum so concerned about political contributions of which anti-labor sentiments constitute the vast majority? Oops.

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          My Advanced Placement teachers were not very fond of their unions. But for unmotivated teachers they can be very beneficial in terms of bribing politicians for ridiculous benefits like retirement at 50 with full inflation adjusted pension.

          Also, unions are great for helping teachers keep their jobs or get payoffs after they view and distribute porn at work or molest children.

          “A Wisconsin middle school teacher fired in 2010 for viewing porn while on the job has been reinstated with back pay.

          The teachers union and the legal system came to the defense of science teacher Andrew Harris. An arbitrator has ordered that Harris be reinstated at his teaching position at Glacier Creek Middle School, and that he receive $200,000 in back pay.”

          http://www.onenewsnow.com/education/2014/01/30/legal-order-reinstates-teacher-who-viewed-porn-on-the-job#

          “A teacher’s union in Michigan is fighting to force a city school district to pay a teacher convicted of molesting a student a $10,000 severance buyout, outraging the family of the young victim.”

          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2522818/Teachers-union-seeks-10-000-severance-teacher-molested-son.html

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I don’t know whether your claim about AP teachers is correct. But they certainly have a lot less to worry about, as they get the creme de la creme of the student body.

            A teacher who is being judged by the results of the lowest performers is in a far more precarious position. It’s more difficult to teach those who are unmotivated. Some teachers are better than others, of course, but even a great teacher can’t force feed learning to someone who refuses to take it.

          • 0 avatar

            bullnuke, racer-esq. abuse exists. I’m not denying that. The system is not perfect. How could it be as it’s made by people? However, it’s better to have protection than to subject everyone to the whims of those in power. People in power are just that, people. And they can abuse others just as easily.

          • 0 avatar

            > My Advanced Placement teachers were not very fond of their unions.

            Were they same ones who taught to use anecdotes, from highly questionable sources no less, to argue a case?

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            Re: agenthex – Here are statistics on how impossible unions make it to get rid of bad teachers:

            “According to the pro-education reform documentary Waiting for ‘Superman,’ one out of every 57 doctors loses his or her license to practice medicine.

            One out of every 97 lawyers loses their license to practice law.

            In many major cities, only one out of 1000 teachers is fired for performance-related reasons. Why? Tenure.”

            “In 2003, one Los Angeles union representative said: ‘If I’m representing them, it’s impossible to get them out. It’s impossible. Unless they commit a lewd act.’ Unfortunately for the students who have to learn from these educators, virtually every teacher who works for the Los Angeles Unified School District receives tenure: In 2009, The Los Angeles Times reported that fewer than two percent of teachers are denied tenure during the two year probationary period after being hired. And once they have tenure, there’s no getting rid of them. Between 1995 and 2005, only 112 Los Angeles tenured teachers faced termination — eleven per year — out of 43,000. And that’s in a school district where the graduation rate in 2003 was just 51 percent.”

            http://articles.latimes.com/2009/dec/20/local/la-me-teacher-tenure20-2009dec20

            http://teachersunionexposed.com/protecting.php

            Feel free to cite any source to contradict my point.

          • 0 avatar

            > Here are statistics on how impossible unions make it to get rid of bad teachers

            It’s interesting that’s how you believe these stats work. High tenure rates would imply that either pay was poor, or the job was otherwise undesirable, and thus the competition isn’t very high. For comparison, tenor at uni is quite difficult.

            As for the statistical comparison, it seems to be dismissal rates for illegal or similar behavior, and it’s implicitly assumed in your argument that these *should* occur at the same rates across all occupations. If basic math reasoning isn’t taught in AP classes, it really should be.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            Re: agenthex – Instead of insecurely failing to play childish logic games, try to have the basic research skill to find ONE source refuting the widespread barriers that teacher’s unions put in the way of removing bad teachers.

            I am not going to waste time with the kind of idiot that does not realize the difference between public grade school/high school tenure (something every teacher is guaranteed by the union after a short probationary period – 2 years in LA public schools) and tenure at a university (a senior position that must be qualified for based on research).

            Competition for public school jobs is high because of relatively high pay for soft degrees, summers off, retirement with a full pension at 55 or younger and a guaranteed job for life. But the bad teachers that slip past the initial hiring process are effectively impossible to remove.

          • 0 avatar

            > Instead of insecurely failing to play childish logic games

            I wasn’t aware basic reasoning generally expected of high school grads was out of bounds.

            > try to have the basic research skill to find ONE source refuting the widespread barriers that teacher’s unions put in the way of removing bad teachers.

            To wit these are claims you’re making, poorly, and it’s not my job to either make or not make your arguments. It’s worth pointing out that learning about “disproving a negative” should’ve been taught in HS science.

            > the kind of idiot that does not realize the difference between public grade school/high school tenure

            They are quite similar in that it’s a perk of the job in exchange for other benefits like pay. Ie.:

            > Competition for public school jobs is high because of relatively high pay for soft degrees, summers off, retirement with a full pension at 55 or younger and a guaranteed job for life.

            So the select candidates that get the job must be really good after all (tenure after 2years! screw professorship!), contrary to your claims. Those AP teachers really were terrible, though, they should be fired.

          • 0 avatar
            kmoney

            Forgive me if I miss this, but I cant really see why teachers would be granted tenure in the first place. The point of tenure is to ensure academic freedom — i.e., the ability do/ say/publish/pursue lines of research that you deem in the public good despite their relation or opposition to your employers or sources of funding. How does someone whose job consists largely of teaching a curriculum set by other people fall under this same umbrella?

            As much as I respect teachers, and as much as I am against neoliberalism, I feel that teaching at the primary and secondary level is a professional-client relationship — with the client in this case being the tax payer. As such, if the teacher cannot perform their duties to a minimum standard then it’s time to make him/her hit the pavement. Protecting poor employees who have such a such a large impact on young and impressionable people seems like one of the most nonsensical things on earth.

          • 0 avatar

            > cant really see why teachers would be granted tenure in the first place

            In practice it’s more of an economic incentive in lieu of higher pay (ie taxpayer money) and negotiated as such through the union; not unlike a gov job that pays less but offers stability. You can still be fired, but only for a narrower set of just causes.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            “Forgive me if I miss this, but I cant really see why teachers would be granted tenure in the first place.”

            Public sector unions like teachers’ unions don’t have honest negotiations against an adversary, like private sector unions. They negotiate with politicians that they have already bribed with political contributions. Because of that they get well beyond the wages and benefits actually required to fill positions with talented candidates.

            “In 2003, one Los Angeles union representative said: ‘If I’m representing them, it’s impossible to get them out. It’s impossible. Unless they commit a lewd act.’ Unfortunately for the students who have to learn from these educators, virtually every teacher who works for the Los Angeles Unified School District receives tenure: In 2009, The Los Angeles Times reported that fewer than two percent of teachers are denied tenure during the two year probationary period after being hired. And once they have tenure, there’s no getting rid of them. Between 1995 and 2005, only 112 Los Angeles tenured teachers faced termination — eleven per year — out of 43,000. And that’s in a school district where the graduation rate in 2003 was just 51 percent.”

            http://articles.latimes.com/2009/dec/20/local/la-me-teacher-tenure20-2009dec20

            “Hundreds of New York City public school teachers accused of offenses ranging from insubordination to sexual misconduct are being paid their full salaries to sit around all day playing Scrabble, surfing the Internet or just staring at the wall, if that’s what they want to do.

            Because their union contract makes it extremely difficult to fire them, the teachers have been banished by the school system to its ‘rubber rooms’ _ off-campus office space where they wait months, even years, for their disciplinary hearings.”

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/22/new-york-teachers-paid-to_n_219336.html

            There is hope. A number of states are starting to get rid of tenure so that bad teachers can actually be fired. Voters just need to stand up against the special interest money of the teachers’ unions.

          • 0 avatar

            > Because of that they get well beyond the wages and benefits actually required to fill positions with talented candidates.

            In a free market to a large extent you’ll get what you pay for, incl labor. It’s certainly possible to get someone to stand up in front of a classroom for not very much, but the question is whether that’s someone who you want doing the job.

            The problem is that ideologues don’t think much since they’re too busy justifying few simpleton beliefs they hold dear. They’ll never learn anything, which is unfortunate because it’s pretty certain these teachers taught them better at some point in time. To wit:

            > They negotiate with politicians that they have already bribed with political contributions.

            It’s it nice too see someone from that side of the political spectrum so concerned about political contributions of which anti-labor sentiments constitute the vast majority? Oops.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          Strangely, it’s not a teachers union, but an educators union, and in our area at least, the boss is likely a member of the same union!

          I think the problem is the mega unions. Most every teacher in our state is in one union I think. What sense does that make?

        • 0 avatar
          Short Bus

          So essentially, as I said, public educators do not wish to be treated like professionals. Because all of the things you listed as concerns are things that every other person with that level of education gets to deal with in their own careers.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Hey, my daughter is a school teacher and educator of teachers in TX and if she wanted to work there, she had to join the union.

        Have they done anything for her? No, but they do get a nice chunk of her pay check every pay day.

        Does she get paid what she is worth based on her education and work experience? No! With a BachelorEd and an MPA, and 14 years of work experience, she’s getting paid less than most uneducated auto workers.

        But that is the going rate. Take it or leave it. Since she needs to work, she took it.

        Is there any future in it? No! In 3-5 years she’ll have to redo her resume, add the additional experience and seek a better paying job elsewhere.

        That’s the new normal, unionized or not.

        • 0 avatar
          ClutchCarGo

          “Have they done anything for her? No, but they do get a nice chunk of her pay check every pay day.”

          Actually, yes, they’ve done plenty for her. She can’t be fired for getting pregnant, or for being too old, or for being seen in a bar, all things that my schoolteacher aunt had to worry about before unionization. She used to cross over from IN to IL to enjoy a drink where she wouldn’t be recognized and ratted out. And I guarantee that the school district would pay your daughter even less without the union.

          • 0 avatar
            Short Bus

            Isn’t it illegal for somebody to be straight up fired for any of those reasons? What do unions have to do with preventing the type of discrimination that would get a school district sued over?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Short Bus, yes it is illegal to be fired for any of those reason and unions had nothing to do with that.

            With the EEOC, NLRB, OSHA, Education and EPA all unleashing mandates, restrictions and regulations on school districts, it’s a wonder that they are functioning at all.

            Adding any union to the mix only muddles up our kids and grand kids getting an education.

            Maybe that’s why NM is dead last in the ranking of national education. Too many rules, regulations, mandates, and too much union interference.

            Not a good return for our tax dollars. Private schools are the way to go, if you can afford it.

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            It’s not illegal for a techer to be fired for drinking in public. It happened recently in GA (she posted a picture on her FB page holding a mug of beer while on a trip to Germany). As to the other reasons, while those are prohibited by law NOW, that wasn’t the case before labor organizations like her union pushed for those restrictions. And teachers’ pay has been historically low since it is a female dominated occupation. Her union has most certainly helped with that.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            ClutchCarGo, the bottom line remains that a lot of people who are forced to join a union, teacher or whatever union, do so in order to get the job, not because they believe that a union can make life better for them. For most it does not.

            I am certain that there are people, like you, who espouse union philosophy and see this planet in terms of a one huge struggle of workers against their employers, with the unions carrying the banner for the workers, ready to bargain the employers into submission and bankruptcy, thereby bargaining their members out of a job.

            What better example than the UAW vs GM/Chrysler or the union vs Hostess.

            People have to know their station in life. If a union works for one, but not another, both are free to join or move on.

            In the case of my daughter, joining this union is a means to an end. In 3-5 years she will redo her resume, add the current experience, and apply for something better paying and higher up on the career ladder. Gone are the days of staying in one job for a lifetime.

            Her goal is to secure a job at State level, although Federal level is also a possibility.

            She’s merely checking off the boxes as she goes along in pursuit of that goal and paying her dues to a union along the way is a unnecessary evil.

          • 0 avatar
            Short Bus

            So that’s it? The last great hurdle we need unions to get us over? The right to drink in public?

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            The right to drink is hardly the last hurdle, it’s just emblematic of the kind of specious reasons that an employer can use to fire someone. Without protections a teacher can be fired for anything that offends the sensibility of the principal or school board. This is especially sensitive since people get concerned about the morality of teachers (Oh, what about the children?!?) while they demonstrate the same behaviors themselves. I run the same risk since I work in an “at will” state. As such, I post very little to my FB page. I rely purely on my worth to my employer for protection from frivolous action (and the fact that no one else knows how to do some of what I do), but I don’t envy those who are more replaceable. HDC, I wish your daughter well but if her personal views and hobbies are not in sync with her boss, she would be worse off without her union.

          • 0 avatar
            Felix Hoenikker

            First of all, lose the FB account. It is simply something that can be used against your by a current or future employer. I see posting to FB as a type of mass public display of mental retardation with regard to privacy.

        • 0 avatar
          DC Bruce

          Last time I checked, Texas was a right to work state. That means you DON’T have to join a union to take a job, even in an “organized shop.” Sumpin’ else is going on here.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            DC Bruce, tell that to the school districts.

            Regardless of what is or is not going on there or anywhere else, if a person wants the job, they’ll do whatever it takes to secure that job.

            It’s better to be working in a job you want than in a job that has run its course and offers no further incentives to stay on.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          HDC, where is she a teacher leader? Here in Texas we’re a RTW state. Union or organization membership is not compelled, thusly unions are relatively weak.

          Many educational organizations do offer strong liability insurance for classroom incidents…therefore most teachers join for that protection. Dues aren’t much more than $25 a month IIRC…

  • avatar
    balreadysaid

    rockefeller,carnegie,westinghouse,morgan!

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      All of whom are dead, and have been so for decades, last time I checked. Perhaps that’s part of the UAW’s problem – it still thinks that the calendar says “1910.”

      • 0 avatar

        True but my experience with most business leaders in this country is that they will shoot for that same level of monopoly and control as soon as their allowed too. Unions are one of those check and balance things.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          Competition is what prevents a particular company from gaining too much control.

          Unions are happy with monopolies or oligopolies. UAW members negotiated the richest contracts when GM, Ford, Chrysler and AMC had 90+ percent of the American new-vehicle market, and the UAW represented 100 percent of the labor used to build those vehicles.

          That grip on the industry was broken when the Japanese auto makers began taking market share away from the domestics. The UAW initially tried to preserve that oligopoly by pushing for domestic content legislation that would have required all vehicles sold here to have a certain level of domestically produced parts (produced, one presumes by UAW members).

          It’s no accident that workers in oligopolies and regulated monopolies (utilities) are often unionized and enjoy higher than average pay and benefits. Unions love monopolies as much as business leaders do.

          • 0 avatar
            doctor olds

            @Geeber- Well said!

          • 0 avatar

            > Unions are happy with monopolies or oligopolies.

            Of course everyone under a “free market” system should serve their own self-interest. Yet so many self-described adherents believe in putting shareholder interests before their own:

            http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/guest-post-jamie-kitman-on-the-battle-of-chattanooga/#comment-2816361

            Why do you think that is? Serious question.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I think I would give this article more consideration if it were easier to read through the bile and vitriol. I’m happy that the workers in Chattanooga turned away the UAW and I’m looking forward to the day when the UAW ceases to be, but the tone is this article and in many of the comments by the B&B in this and other articles are embarrassing and don’t move any conversation forward. All they do is further entrench.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      What argument do you want to put forward? Corporations should be free to exploit all workers? The money should traverse upwards to the top-1%? The massive increase in productivity should be given to the management and not to the workers that has occurred since the late 1970s? The shift in our economy to services and finance that has left a good portion of our citizens lacking.

      It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your benefits, be happy you’re part of the elite power group (or atleast think so) but when confronted with helping everybody the right really has an argument with populist views.

  • avatar
    jupiter119

    As a person who has had relatives in the Detroit auto industry I agree with this post, for the most part. There’s a time and place for unions but they’ve overstayed their welcome and should creep back into the shadows and wait for a time when their needed again.

  • avatar
    F-85

    I dunno. I’m not here to defend (or denigrate) unions. But to my read, this piece paints with broad, heavy-handed strokes, and is too casually dismissive of unions in every respect. The final sentence, IMHO, confirms this. It smacks of strong bias (from its outset), and an agenda that is unspoken, but pretty clear.

    A couple of thoughts: I missed where the author claimed some work history as a “temp” and at which facility. That said, it’s not obvious to me, without some other background, whether simply working as a “temp” in one of the factories qualifies one to make the sweeping generalizations that s/he does. That, in turn, makes me question whether to put great weight in this person’s opinion.

    Just my take.

  • avatar
    mu_redskin

    Greensburg is a much newer assembly plant, so it is far easier for temp workers to become regular full time employees. It’s been a while, but I seem to recall some articles the last couple of years of some temp workers at the Toyota plant in Georgetown never being made into a full time worker. If companies abuse the ‘temp’ worker situation, then I could see a case for union representation.

  • avatar
    86er

    Nothing like the courage of your convictions…

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The jobs banks were created as a sort of insurance policy against management incompetence. At least some workers would be able to continue to be able to maintain their livelihoods, irrespective of the bad choices made by their bosses.

    If the Detroit automakers had built cars that were good enough to fend off the competition, then the job banks would have been irrelevant, as strong sales would have kept everybody working.

    Frankly, if I worked on a line and saw firsthand how uncompetitive these cars were, then I’d want an insurance policy, too. I can’t imagine that one could build some of the dreck that Detroit has built and feel good about ones job prospects.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      “The jobs banks were created as a sort of insurance policy against management incompetence. At least some workers would be able to continue to be able to maintain their livelihoods, irrespective of the bad choices made by their bosses.”

      The job bank was in-fact a luddite UAW response to improving automation and efficiency. Workers could be laid off because of “[r]educed customer demand” (i.e. what would arguably be management incompetence), but:

      “Eligible employees cannot be laid off because of:

      • Introduction of new technology (such as robots)
      • Sourcing decisions
      • Company-implemented efficiency actions”

      http://www.carlist.com/autonews/2005/autonews_164.html

      In other words, the jobs bank was a way for the UAW to punish the US automakers for competently (not incompetently) improving automation and efficiency.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        As I understand it, during the early 1980s, both Ford and Chrysler underwent a massive blood-letting to stay alive. This involved numerous plant closures. GM resisted this trend, and tried to improve productivity through widespread implementation of automation (a move the UAW initially applauded).

        By 1984, both Ford and Chrysler were profitable again, thanks in part to their much more efficient production footprint. Ford proposed the Jobs Bank during contract negotiations both to pacify the UAW (remember, Ford had already downsized its production capacity during 1980-82) and to “stick it” to GM. The latter had not yet performed any downsizing of its production capacity.

        GM management, believing that its spiffy new models and automation binge would power it through any slump (hmmm…does this sound familiar?), readily agreed to the Jobs Bank.

  • avatar

    Well, this was quite a rant. If I understand correctly, the writer is pro union but anti UAW, which makes sense to me. It would have been nice to see what the vote would have been without the intimidation from Corker and others. It would also be nice to see how workers would vote on representation by a different union, perhaps one more modeled after the German unions VW is accustomed to working with.

    I’m no expert, but I get a sense that the spirit of cooperation of the German unions has been much better than that of the UAW. Of course, high German labor rates mean German vehicles have to be marketed as premium vehicles here while often functioning as tax cabs in Europe.

    Another fact of note is that vehicles don’t include a lot of premium labor these days. Cars are assembled mostly from modules and assemblies. There isn’t that much labor involved especially when you consider the robots. And those are assembled by lower wage workers, OFTEN from foreign sources. For example, I was recently told that every dash assembly in a Chrysler vehicle is sourced from Korea.

    The UAW 2 tier comp system is something I find particularly repugnant.

    Despite the obvious emotion in the column I find it fair and balanced.

  • avatar
    Pastor Glenn

    Believe it or not, I’m not just an ordained Pastor, but I am also an automotive historian.

    Looking at the history of Detroit some 100 years ago, if you care to do so, shows us several things.

    Society was more attuned to Christian ethics, as a whole, which meant that while good managers such as those who ran Packard Motor and Hudson Motor were more than willing to provide benefits to their employees, they also did not wish to “paternize” full grown men. There was safety equipment as thought to be needed; there were dance halls for men and their families to use; there were medics and doctors on staff for men and their families; but it was not a communist system by any means. Men wanted to earn their own daily bread, and took pride in it – including men who worked in factories.

    Yes, Henry Ford doubled the wage, but he did so because the job was so tough (too tough), due to speed-ups he ordered. His factory doors were like revolving doors – people left as quickly as they came, and training people who lasted a few weeks cost him a fortune. In effect, he saved money by paying the people to stick around. He also acted badly towards his people by acting too patronizing and by thinking “HE” and his henchmen (Bennett & co) were in totak Kontrol. He had the goons go through worker’s houses looking for stolen tools, etc., eventually – the Constitution, law and dignity of his employees be damned.

    This is where the unions came in, because of abuses. But in reality, it was exchanging one bad boss for two.

    It’d have been better if the employees at bad companies had walked away – no matter how much pay was offered, and only chosen to work at good companies. It’s not like there wasn’t the opportunity, when the country was growing and expanding.

    Then we have the depression. But I won’t digress there, but suffice to say it enabled communists and fascists (both on the far left of the political spectrum, by the way) to flourish.

    So we can see the results in the UAW. And the collapse of our nation.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      “Then we have the depression. But I won’t digress there, suffice it to say it enabled communists and fascists (both on the far left of the political spectrum by the way) to flourish.”

      Must have been American fascists then, who grasping the wrong end of the stick, as usual, decided they were left wing activists!

      Just like about 80% of the commentariat here couldn’t define “socialism” but think they know what it is and it’s BAD.

      Just sheer lack of knowledge, assumption and no urge to learn. Maybe the teachers should be fired for bad tuition in high school!

      For goodness sake, sir, read the cursory article on Wikipedia about Fascism. And learn.

      Then if you think you somehow know better, write a book on the subject. That way even more people with some understanding on the subject can point out the silliness you have captured in print above.

      • 0 avatar
        JD321

        Socialism is just legalized theft…Riiiight?
        Socialism is a violation of human rights and the non-aggression principle.
        What do you little American brats know about socialism?
        Public school and TV has turned you all into stupid and violent parasites demanding everyone else live for you…That is the basis of violent government-backed unionism.

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    I wouldn’t want to put my name on this hack-attack piece either.

    I’d like those two minutes of my life back please. I should have abandoned ship once the Tojo stereotypes were launched, but I stuck around hoping for some redeeming argument that wasn’t all a one-sided, corporate blowjob.

    Obviously, I found none.

    What I found most laughable is the insistence that at the hands of abusive corporate master, it would be EASY to unionize.

    Tell that to Wal-Mart workers.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I hardly endorse Gawker but since you mentioned Wal-Mart I happened to come across this piece earlier in the month. Assuming even half it is true, its very telling about the sad state of affairs in our society as a whole.

      http://gawker.com/decades-of-greed-behind-the-scenes-with-an-angry-walma-1517661634

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      +1. I’m sure the UAW is far from perfect, the two-tier system being one example. But this was mostly a baseless smear piece, light on facts, heavy on vitriol.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke

      Agreed. Pure hot air.

      Any credibility is ruined by the use of the tried and true anti-intellectual, anti-Democratic party, and anti-Obama sops so loved by the hard right. It’s also pretty hard to take any piece seriously when it refers to a twice-elected, center-left President as “Chairman Obama.”

      A lot of people love Rush Limbaugh, but most people don’t. I’ll put this screed into that file and move on.

    • 0 avatar
      Don Mynack

      Wal-Mart workers? Wha?

  • avatar
    poggi

    My father walked the strike lines with John L. Lewis to form the Progressives Miners union. Employees who seek to unionize are not evil, per se. Unions like the UAW are businesses intent upon raising revenue and reducing expenses; thus, the union entity does not always work for the union members’ benefit. I know because I negotiated labor contracts with many of them for 5 years.

    I am neither pro nor con union. They have a place, especially were employers fail to demonstrate a real interest in their employees as people instead of time cards and where they don’t address real and perceived inequities in pay and working conditions.

    The UAW only has what weak management teams gave them. Companies always had the right to say, “no”. Just like a parent who gives into a child’s cry for more candy, the car companies ended up with a fat, slow child when the world needed speed and flexibility.

    Our government is doing the same now with every constituency that wants more for less. Nothing changes.

  • avatar
    redav

    (sigh) This article is probably worse than the other one.

    I would have much rather read an article with real research & documentation to the accuracy (or fallacy) of pro- and anti-UAW claims.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      You have to take these articles at face value. They express an author’s personally-held beliefs.

      In many cases the research and documentation has been done before the article is written and helped shape the perspective of the author.

      I truly appreciate articles that are written from a personal perspective, and rooted in personal experience and personal anecdotes because it gives insight into what shaped an author’s position on an issue. Understanding a person is half the battle won.

      To me, it appears that combined history, experience and anecdotes from within the US auto industry are what brought the majority of workers to reject the UAW in TN.

      No matter. The next onslaught is being fomented as we post. Next target? The other German plants in America’s Southland.

      And the UAW caissons are rolling along….. for a new battle in the South.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        The two aren’t mutually exclusive.

        An author can just as easily mix in personal experiences with data to give substance to their personal observations as well as give meaning to the data.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Protip: If you want to be taken seriously, don’t go off on angryman rants. Take a Xanax before you satrt typing. I’ve been guilty of it myself… an intelligent person and articulate writer can still look like a total buffoon if he lets emotions take over.

    …And don’t make it so obvious that you work for Honda, mmmkay?

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    The UAW wasnt responsible for the crappy designs and badge engineering that led people to try the foreign competition.

    What exactly is wrong with someone who has 30+ years in doing light duty maintenance work? Should they be expected to do heavy labor the last years toward retirement?

    Thats basically what seniority is all about. New hires do all the grunt work and have crappy shifts, while people that have been there longer get to bid on more enjoyable jobs and get regular schedules.

    whats wrong with that?

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    A great counter point could have been sourced with some opinion similar to AlternateReality coupled with witnessing both sides of the industry.

    Toyota is gearing up for Mexican assembly. HSAP and CSAP have been around for decades. I don’t buy the assembly quality completely- there are issues that have been assembly related that aren’t caught by end of line testing- air leakage from body plugs, door fit and wire routings, to name a few.

    I view Toyota and Honda in the same outsourcing light as the Detroit OEM’s, just more conservative. Their globalization of suppliers and assembly is more gradual and refined, just like the rest of their processes. The difference? It’s more robust.

    Anon, C- for effort.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Agreed. Lets not ignore history. When Toyota walked away from NUMMI and found a willing investor in Tesla, the Tacoma became Heche en Mexico.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Which only serves to illustrate the point that UAW organization drives production to Mexico. NUMMI was infected, after all. O###a’s NLRB won’t let a manufacturer move production from an organized crime plant to one in a right to work state, so the only choice is to move it outside of the USA. That doesn’t bother O###a though, as he’s in it to dance on our graves.

      • 0 avatar
        SpinnyD

        Most Tacomas are built in San Antonio, TX, only about 50k of the 150k+ are built in TMMBC. so most Tacomas are Hencho en Texas.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Overheated purple prose can be entertaining, but don’t expect anyone to actually be convinced by it.

    Do you think the UAW is a parasite? Then show us why, don’t just rant. That may well be true — large unions are notoriously hard to govern well — but this doesn’t support it one bit.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Not only do extremists tend to like polarizing rhetoric and sloganeering, but they also assume that anyone who doesn’t abuse the language in that fashion is “biased.”

      The internet has fostered the development of a bizarro echo chamber in which being an intellectually sloppy, hyperbole-driven moron is upheld as some sort of virtue. They like to think of themselves as being brave and bold, when they prove themselves to be only worthy of mockery.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Not just the internet, but cable news channels, too.

        It seems to be combination a positive feedback loop and the angry mob phenomenon (people making decisions together tend to be more extreme than each person individually).

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          Cable News? The MSM is a big liberal feedback loop itself. The thing about Fox and MSNBC is that you know where they stand. The rest pretend to be unbiased but tend liberal and classist.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Unions exist to keep management honest, but then there is the responsibility on management to keep the union honest. In the 50s and 60s the management gave everything away and promised more and more and better and better to the workers. The Big 3 assumed that things would always be “fat” and that they would always have nearly 100% of the market. When that market share started to erode, everything else was unsustainable.

    (BTW I was a member of the AFT until becoming “management”).

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      The education unions are a far different beast than the UAW and are more inline with a service union. There will always be a demand, they are unable to be outsourced but they are battling a far different beast in the form of capitalism trying to invade the classroom to steal our autonomy. If anything historically educators are underpaid for their level of education and represent a professional class. But that’s neither here nor there.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        I wholeheartedly agree. And boiling everything down to test numbers and ‘value added’ pretty much decontents the highly human nature of being an educator. Tragic really.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Teachers unions are great, if your goal is the end of the US. It’s no coincidence that Johnny’s likelihood of illiteracy shot up when teachers joined the ranks of those demanding the most pay for the least work with no accountability. You couldn’t do as much damage to the world by poisoning reservoirs.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          @CJinSD, ClutchCarGo makes excellent points above to which I will only add this: You are still fighting the battles of the 1980s. Accountability is here to stay and was made universal with NCLB legislation. Even President Obama has simply allowed states to make alternative proposals as to how student progress will be measured and how teachers will be evaluated. New Mexico (where I live and work) is one of those states.

          If you truly care you can plow through the evaluation rubric here: http://www.nctq.org/docs/NMTEACH_Rubric.pdf

          I am intimately familiar with it as the evaluator of all personnel within my school.

          There are certainly more financially rewarding things that someone can do with a 4 year degree than teach. Anyone who stays in the profession of education long term (14 years and counting here) must feel that they have been called to the vocation as surely as any preacher feels that his creator has called him to preach.

          If a teacher is “bad” it is ultimately up to their evaluator to ride them out of the profession by the legal means at his disposal. There are horror stories (and I could tell a few) but the root of those horror stories are more often a administrator who was not willing to do their job or a lily livered central office person who did not support that evaluator in ensuring that students took front and center.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Perhaps living in California forces me to only see the worst of education, but here the situation is indefensible. Teachers are extremely overpaid for their level of initiative and results. Their job safety has nothing to do with their performance or behavior. Their benefits, compensation and retirement ages are positively cringe worthy. I live in a beach community. The number of retired public school teachers that have bay-front homes and the flush of youth is only exceeded by the number of homeless people that should be in their prime earning years. As for their contribution to California’s prosperity, the ones that teach in rich neighborhoods spend all their time on special needs kids born to people that weren’t ready to prioritize having kids until 40 was knocking and the ones in poor areas are teaching border jumpers that don’t live in the US much of the year and whose parents can’t read and write in Spanish. None of these students are destined to pay much in income taxes. The teachers I meet that don’t quit are entirely self righteous about their roles. A Masters in education seems to avoid any mention of the harm done by wasting money on six figure day care workers and legacy costs. Our schools exist for the teachers union,, except for the new empty ones in LA that exist for the crony union construction companies.

          • 0 avatar

            > retired public school teachers that have bay-front homes and the flush of youth is only exceeded by the number of homeless people that should be in their prime earning years

            This reads like some kind of lower class american conservative parody, given most homeless are mentally ill esp in CA with the closure of mental institutes.

            > nes that teach in rich neighborhoods spend all their time on special needs kids born to people that weren’t ready to prioritize having kids until 40 was knocking and the ones in poor areas are teaching border jumpers that don’t live in the US much of the year and whose parents can’t read and write

            Teachers getting rich teaching the retard kids of those with careers and plan carefully, or ‘dem illiterate illegals something something.

            No wonder even this guy got sick of it:

            http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2008/10/31/9105/9154

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      PrincipalDan- You were on track except for the notion about management assumptions. The UAW has the power to strike a strategic plant, and force the automakers to pay all the other workers laid off due to the work stoppage. This gives them power to dictate contract terms with a $Billion “club” over the head.

  • avatar
    Charlie84

    I usually have no problem entertaining ideas that challenge my own, but I stopped reading this piece at “beloved Chairman Obama”. Give me a break. How can this author expect to be taken seriously when he writes like a high schooler who just discovered Glen Beck?

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    As someone who is currently second in command at the local union, I somewhat agree to some of the points. I think similar things happened to the car industry in Britain. Unions have driven legislation though, and they have suceeded in improving everyones workers rights a lot the last decade. But, there really needs to be a balance in power between the employers and emloyees, and a lot of that can be fixed by legislation, and some of that can be fixed by ‘reasonably competent management/leadership’ (not as far fetched as it sounds, it can exist)
    Where I work more and more of the middle management and engineering functions have been replaced by ‘professional’ managers. That means we have a bunch of people who could potentially be good leaders, on paper, if they had some idea or interest in our product or methods, or basic people skills. It seems a lot of Japanese and German car manufacturers do more of what we used to do in the past, and make leaders out of people who used to be competent workers, and they actually treat their employees like an asset, not just an expense…and I believe Henry Ford did similar things back in the day? (correct me if I’m wrong on that)
    Cutting costs at any cost (and some general ego-fuelled incompetence)is what killed American and British car industry, and it will probably kill my business too….

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    i kenmor cat u kill him boar too deth chanatooga storees

    he sit chair ded now stink u cheees eatting rodenz i give you butt now

    hmkl;mmmmmmmmmmmmm//l; “l[;,..mmnuyhguftcuyedr

  • avatar
    etho1416

    Oh no. Does this mean ttac is going back to it’s libertarian right wing past? Is this sort of editorial going to be the norm again? I thought niedermeyer was gone and content with bashing labor in the WSJ? Back to jalopnik I go!

    Also. Have some guts and don’t let people post stuff like this anonymously.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      libertarian or right wing, which is it? They are different, and mixing the two only make you look ignorant.

      • 0 avatar
        CRConrad

        That’s what libertarians like to think. In principle, though, their rump of an ideology is just some bits of right-wing conservatism drawn too ludicrous extremes.

        And in practice, they only serve as a foil for arguments against right-wing conservatism, and therefore a handy shield for right-wing conservatives.

        All in all, what Lenin called “useful idiots”, only on the opposite side of the ideological spectrum.

        HTH!

  • avatar
    tedward

    Well this is a shame. Both articles on the union topic have staked out entirely predictable, and utterly ideological, positions to defend, while making easy to avoid mistakes in the process.

    Pro Union: The author was wrong in assuming that the factory workers had anything to gain by the involvement of the UAW specifically in their day to day. I think that a union needs to demonstrate how their unique experience and knowledge of the industry would put them in a better position to negotiate fairly for members. As far as I’ve seen the UAW doesn’t really make those arguments. The one value they implicitly provide is being able to shut down multiple brands at once, something that isn’t really helpful for Tennessee workers in any plausible future scenario. The UAW acts like a monopoly, and like any monopoly provides poor service and doesn’t tailor their product and messaging to individual consumer groups. This was an “own goal” decades in the making.

    Anti-union: Lost much of the audience with his juvenile political asides (lose the audience and you lose, regardless of the merits of your argument.) Aside from that his piece demonstrates a profound lack of historical knowledge about the early days of American industrialization. Factory (owners *EDIT) were absolutely the bad actors that unionists claim they were, if anything they were worse. This goes beyond company towns where the status quo was indentured servitude and right to the hiring of thugs to physically assault and kill workers and those advocating for them. Groups of well armed thugs mind you, with the explicit backing of paid for elected officials. The union movement was thus born out of a need for immediate physical protection from violence and unsafe work conditions, as well as a pressing and immediate need for their to be some financial counter to the overwhelming bribery monopoly factory owners enjoyed in Washington. Do you see how this set the stage for the UAW’s current structural problems? Make that argument and carry the day.

    One could have tried to even make the claim that this union would be good for these workers (doing so would probably be a failing proposition.) The other could have made a compelling argument that the historical commitments of a big legacy union leave it unsuited to provide value to these workers at this factory.

    I’m leaving the job bank and two tier structure alone because there’s nothing new there. Nearly every industry has less talented senior staff that feel threatened by young blood and try in some way to neuter them. The only justification for it is that nearly every industry has bad managers who will absolutely fire more expensive and committed employees for purely short term financial gains (hence tenure.) Union or not these are issues everywhere.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    frankly those who chose to work get paid. do they get paid enough? they can always quit. enjoy the cup o ramen while your at it.

  • avatar
    rushn

    Oh my. Even with UAW’s obvious problems, to put it mildly, this is a hit piece from the get go. I just don’t understand why.

    Before even getting through a third of an article
    - Henry Ford’s “salary doubling” fairy tale, which omits little details like in-home spying and other shenanigans illegal in civilized world today
    - Laundry list of bad things UAW has done
    - Random factoids supporting who knows what and unrelated to just about anything. Why not talk about where BMW’s in Germany are made? What, doesn’t fit the agenda?

    And then of course the typical “chairman” this, hyperbole-to-bat-shit-ridiculous that.

    Yeah, if I wrote poorly researched and unsupported bullshit, I’d keep myself anonymous too, probably in a bunker in a different country. Send this one back to the pirate CB radio station he came from.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Unions and the Labour Movement had a place in history. Like the horse and cart and the steam engine. But now we have fantastic trains like the TGV and fantastic gas and diesel engines.

    The UAW hasn’t modernised quick enough.

    All Labour Movements are viewed as an insurance policy. People make pay a monthly due for protection.

    As a business what does the Labour Movement or UAW provide?

    They are a poor business and provide poor service backed by a poor product lineup.

    As progressive as the UAW would like to consider itself, it just will not be able to sell horses, carts and steam engines when we have much better options available.

    The UAW will die, as with most labour movements as they are old and tired and can’t offer a decent product for this day and age.

    The left might not be as progressive as many think. They are to inflexible to meet the challenges of the future and now just waste capital that could be better invested to create jobs.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      The organization of labour was a logical reaction to the organization of capital (i.e. the corporation).

      “It is essential that there should be organization of labor. This is an era of organization. Capital organizes and therefore labor must organize.” TR

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @86er
        The problem is like I pointed out, people consider the organisation of capital a better option for survival.

        The organisation of labour doesn’t provide insurance for survival as well as it’s competition.

        It’s business, the UAW can’t provide an attractive product to sell.

        Would you invest in an unreliable car, even if it was locally manufactured? It would make for poor judgement, you will buy what is best for you and Organised Labour can’t provide this.

        Organised Labour need to produce a viable product.

        The only people who do support organised labour are the ones who’s paradigms align.

        Most people don’t care, that’s why imported cars sell so well in the US.

        Hard earnt cash must be spent wisely and not on the inadequate insurance that organised labour provides.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    This is hillarious:
    “homegrown Americans, by which we mean “white people” and “black people”.”

    Aha, so there ain’t no Chinks, Japs and other slanted eyed Asians homegrown in the USA. No sir, just white peoples and black peoples.

    I am so excited I drooled all over my cape.

  • avatar
    Ion

    Lost me at the part about the Civic and ILX being the “highest quality vehicles ever assembled”. When did hard plastic and panel gaps equate to quality?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I did not like this piece for its tone or its poorly-argued points; all it can do is stir the anti-union people to cheer. And I’m no fan of unions, generally, except for safety-related issues.

    “Union protection” is an oxymoron, since its protection historically has a short lifespan. It hasn’t helped people keep their jobs.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I gotta say, these two posts deserved each other. Much heat; little light. The only way to shed light on the Chattanooga VW situation would be to talk to some of the voters, especially the ones who voted “no.” Their reasons would be interesting and illuminating and, if I had to guess, not particularly ideological. It might be that they didn’t see the “value proposition” in union membership: that the money they paid in union dues would not result in higher paychecks or better benefits. They might believe that making their labor more expensive would reduce jobs and drive production elsewhere.

    Or not.

    Or, they might resent the salesjob that the union’s people were giving them.

    Or they might fear that Corker and the other Tennessee politicians had it right: certifying a union would stagnate the plant and cause any future expansion to go elsewhere.

    Some of them might know that sales of the VWs that are produced in that plant have not met projections. That very well might not be their fault; but they might be thinking this is not a good time to hit the boss up for a raise.

    It is amusing to learn that Kitman, who writes for an automobile enthusiast magazine, is a big proponent of “climate change.” He probably thinks the Tesla is a super car and wishes that everyone would own them. With enough tax subsidies . . . his wish could come true.

    As for the ad hominem complaints about the anonymity of the author of the “counterpoint” piece, since most of the complainers write here under pseudonyms, that’s a pretty risible — if not hypocritical — position to take.

    Big Labor refuses to read the memo: failure to organize VW’s plant, failure to throw Scott Walker out of office, failure to keep Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio from becoming “right to work” states. Incipient taxpayer revolts at the cost of public employee retirement in lots of places, including California, Chicago and so on.

    They can’t keep doing the same thing and expect to have a different result.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      “As for the ad hominem complaints about the anonymity of the author of the “counterpoint” piece, since most of the complainers write here under pseudonyms, that’s a pretty risible — if not hypocritical — position to take.”

      No, when I wanted my views expressed in article form on this site, it was published under my name.

      I also believe that my concerns were not of an ad hominem nature against the anonymous author, but rather the journalistic practice of protecting sources as exercised here.

      • 0 avatar

        If we stop that practice, we will not be able to break stories from readers inside the industry, who tip us off but need to keep their employment. It will continue.

        • 0 avatar

          > If we stop that practice, we will not be able to break stories from readers inside the industry, who tip us off but need to keep their employment. It will continue.

          It’s surely obvious this is likely someone working in some capacity for Honda working a hit piece against not only the competition but the threat of unionization at their own plants. Not exactly what most consider an “insider tip”. This also does seem to be first it’s happened. The Ruggles piece against TC was in a similar vein though less anonymous.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Both sides of it are valid. A reporter may need to keep his sources secret or they dry up but at the same time hiding behind anonymity could be viewed as a dodge. I say stick to your best judgement in running the site, which is ultimately the role of an editor.

        • 0 avatar
          tedward

          Anonymous articles are a great idea. This one wasn’t great but stopping then would be throwing the baby out with the bath water.

          Reading the byline just needs to become standard practice.

        • 0 avatar
          rushn

          As mentioned by many, this is no inside information and this “insider” provided no better insight than any one else with opinion on these boards would.

          If you are going to protect the guy’s anonymity, it’s also fair that you protect your readers from reading dreck when they expect something far better, and closer to TTAC typical standards.

        • 0 avatar
          CRConrad

          In the future, try to exercise a little better judgement over when it’s worth it to grant anonymous cowards a platform, and when not.

          In this case it should have been obvious that it wasn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            gottacook

            Especially given that Kitman didn’t write anonymously.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            I’m inclined to cut “Anonymous” some slack in that regard. If my views were known at work, I’d almost certainly suffer for it.

            Kitman’s in the business… he’s actually valued for his views.

        • 0 avatar
          fvfvsix

          Derek, they’re only giving you grief because they don’t like what anonymous wrote, and for some reason have trouble just leaving it at that. They gotta go all “Facebook ninja” on the OP.

    • 0 avatar

      > Their reasons would be interesting and illuminating and, if I had to guess, not particularly ideological.

      Given the reaction the issue obviously elicits this seems a poor guess. Unionization (and UAW as posterchild) is one of political wedge issues in this country.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Here is a “10 reasons to vote no” from no2uaw.org website. There’s no guarantee it’s authentic though. My biggest guess would be the “signed card majority” ruse pissed a lot of folks off.

      Top 10 reasons why vw team members should vote no to the uaw
      As we head to the polls this week, we’d like to share with you ten simple reasons why all VW Team Members should vote NO to the UAW.

      Even though Tennessee is a “Right-to-Work” state, the UAW cut a back-room “neutrality deal” (the Election Agreement) behind our backs that affects all of us–even those who may never join the union.
      If you do not plan on joining the UAW (and not pay union dues), the UAW will know who you are and you should expect continual harassment until you either join and pay…or leave.
      Not voting is just like voting for the UAW. The outcome will be based only on those that show up to vote. It is a secret ballot, so make sure you vote and please vote NO. (Even if you signed a union authorization card, you can still vote NO.)
      We are already among the highest paid in the region and, when compared to UAW-represented employees at the Detroit Three with the same length of service, VW Team Members make more. The UAW organizers are implying that we will get more money with the UAW, when they have already (secretly) agreed to cost containment behind our backs.
      The UAW bait and switch promise of delegating its responsibilities as “exclusive bargaining representative” by establishing a Works Council at VW would likely violate both the National Labor Relations Act, as well as the UAW’s own International Constitution. This will eventually leave us with the UAW, but no Works Council.
      The election is not a vote for or against the Works Council; it is a vote for or against the UAW.
      The UAW is increasing union dues by 25% to fund a strike against Detroit automakers. The UAW will use our money to fund their strike after years of irresponsible spending (e.g., the UAW golf course and Las Vegas conventions). Remember, about half of the money you pay to the UAW will be sent directly to the union in Detroit.
      The UAW wanted to unionize us without an election. When that failed, behind closed doors, they got VW to agree to a 9-day “ambush” election, giving UAW organizers dispatched from Detroit access to our plant.
      After being publicly exposed for making implied promises, the UAW’s Gary Casteel has already begun backpedaling, stating “the union has never promised better wages and benefits.”
      The UAW has worked to silence our voices and had VW put a “gag order” on our supervisors and managers who are not allowed to share their personal opinions or views with us. Is this the UAW’s idea of Democracy?

  • avatar
    JSF22

    Best commentary on TTAC about any subject ever.

  • avatar

    It’s noteworthy that this is attributed to a “temp” despite a rhetorical style rather uncharacteristic of someone who would take a minimal wage hourly job at a car plant as insinuated in the article.

    It seems more likely that this person does work for Honda NA in some capacity given the lightly veiled PR fluff, but probably also acting in their interests to divert any support for unionization in Honda’s own plants.

    Hopefully it’s not a sign of things to come least the next anon column picks over the faults of Brand X & Y only to coincidentally enthuse over the many virtues of Brand Z.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Derek also mentioned that TTAC was protecting his livelihood, which I construed to be the present tense.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Well there could be a lot of reasons for that, like I NEED THE MONEY. I worked the night shift (11 p.m. to 7:00 a.m.) for a summer at the fully unionized Dolley Madison cakes factory on Figueroa Street in Los Angeles while I was in college. And I certainly wasn’t making minimum wage. In fact, according to the rather impenetrable (at least to my sense of logic) wage scale, I was at least two steps up from the bottom. The “bottom” was sanitation. The next step up (which I worked at for a bit) consisted of supplying the folks at the end of the line the right kind of baskets in which to put the fully wrapped product. Then I got promoted to the actual production line (more or less) feeding used angel food cake pans into a pan-washing machine and taking the clean ones out.

      Besides my BA, I have two advanced degrees: an MA and a JD. So it’s not inconceivable that a literate person could have such experience. Admittedly, most of the college students of my kids’ generation do not work physical labor summer jobs as we did: construction, moving company, stuff like that. Too bad for them, I say.

      My guess is that Kitman never “worked union” either (except possibly as a member of the Newspaper Guild); but I’m sure he thinks it would be cool, and he’d big on solidarity.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s not inconceivable, but very uncharacteristic as claimed. Maybe writing such poetic pr copy for Honda in his spare time from the 10/hr job for is what got him a better role in the company:

        “Most of them started as “temps”, earning ten bucks an hour to do simple labor, but now they earn twenty-five or thirty dollars an hour or more. Their managers are often recruited from the factory floor, not from a fancy Michigan MBA system that perpetuates an officer/enlisted division between management and labor. Seniority is irrelevant.”

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      “It’s noteworthy that this is attributed to a ‘temp’ despite a rhetorical style rather uncharacteristic of someone who would take a minimal wage hourly job…”

      You should know that some excellent reporting and writing has been done by people working such jobs. One example I’m aware of – not available free except for the opening paragraphs, unfortunately – is Roger Swardson’s “Down and Out in Middle America,” which appeared in 1992 in the Washington Post, reprinted from the Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages (where I copyedited it).

      I’m not evaluating the present piece in any way; I simply wanted to note that prejudgments about people are often not useful or accurate.

      • 0 avatar

        >I’m not evaluating the present piece in any way; I simply wanted to note that prejudgments about people are often not useful or accurate.

        The main point is that if you read between the lines, this was a very carefully crafted PR hit piece: “not from a fancy Michigan MBA system”

        You would expect the usual conserva-blather, yet he’s interesting hitting at detroit’s exec class while extolling Honda’s virtues to convey his message. Why such an angle?

        There are exceptions to very rule, but it’s hard to see any evidence that’s the case here.

  • avatar
    kincaid

    I am not categorically against the idea of unions, however having worked in the automotive industry all of my life, the UAW has never taken a role to foster the sustainability of the organization. It is therefore no surprise that many of the organizations were not sustainable. If the UAW were to set out to make their workers the most productive in the world, then they may possibly have a role. Otherwise just headwind.

    • 0 avatar

      For historical context, the UAW was a reaction to abuses by management and subsequent animosity from the same. Frankly even if they prioritized other issues like QA, it would unlikely be well received from those above who obviously didn’t care enough to avoid pumping out crap for decades.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    Dear Jack and Derek:

    This clearly didn’t work, and I hope you can discuss this in person together at the official EIC Turnover ceremony later this year. Both pieces were so poorly written and full of historical errors, attacks on whole cultures and ideologies, and dripping with condescension for the reader that they totally missed the mark and gave no meaningful insight into what is a significant event in the auto industry.

    This is a major development that deserves to be explored properly. On one hand you have a powerful but stumbling political entity, the UAW, engaged in what some have called a fight for their survival. On the other hand, you have a cautious and skeptical set of employees in the Deep South, wondering why they would want a union to represent their interests in the first place. Then you have a seemingly union-friendly employer facing pressure from the home country to adopt the way of the Works Council concept or face unpleasant consequences. And finally you have the politicians of the state of Tennessee, terrified of an outcome they never considered and causing much nervousness in the legislative halls in Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, and South Carolina. It makes for great blogging material, yet the two pieces presented here today exploit none of this.

    TTAC can, and has in the past, done better. Respectfully submitted, of course.

    • 0 avatar

      The morbid reality is that most people aren’t really interested in understanding how the world works, only projecting and perpetuating their existing beliefs. That’s why every broadbased media outlet is full of empty rhetoric free from discernible scholarship, and almost none of the opposite. As if any more evidence is necessary, observe how few people ever change their minds regardless of any amount of evidence or reasoning to the contrary.

      As to the specifics of this event, your point is salient but not all the interests listed are created equal. The only people most of the populace should give much of a damn about are the fellow citizens working there. For them the only question of self-interest worth considering is the value of a works council and unionization in general, and given the obvious answer the only concern is whether the UAW can represent them competently (incl compared to any alternative). Contrast this with what the rabble are told to mouth off about.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I agree that most people aren’t interested, but as far as I can tell, this website isn’t geared for most people, and if it were, it wouldn’t survive among all the other offerings that do a better job at pandering to the least common denominator.

        LeeK’s point is excellent, and I would love to see some sort of in-depth piece written from each point of view (not necessarily by someone in each position, but by a competent researcher who can effectively communicate what they think).

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        “The morbid reality is that most people aren’t really interested in understanding how the world works…”

        Except when it effects them, then they can be quite interested.

  • avatar
    Robert

    Sad moment when a piece about a Lego car is more informative, educational, and entertaining than a piece on UAW. At least the Lego Ghostbusters article sighted facts.

    I am all for healthy debate, but this is just diatribe criticism as opinion and red state click bait.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    Remember the song to that Michael Keaton film was “Working Class Man” sung by Jimmy Barnes a member of the Australian group “Cold Chisel”.Jimmy and his brother were both hard rockers and came from a very blue collar family.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Journalists should:

    — Test the accuracy of information from all sources and exercise care to avoid inadvertent error. Deliberate distortion is never permissible.
    — Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.
    — Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
    — Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
    — Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.

    The above courtesy of the Society of Professional Journalists

  • avatar
    gachapingymkhana

    I was willing to listen until the author started delighting in racist Japanese stereotypes and fake Maoist titles for our president. When a writer betrays extremest political leanings and/or a tasteless sense of humor it makes it harder to consider everything else he has to say with an open mind.

    • 0 avatar
      bachewy

      +1 to that. What a biased article. Give me a well, thought-out point and I’ll listen. Degrade into one-sided politics and you lose my interest in your point. I don’t recall reading Obama had any input to this vote yet many Republican politicians, not from that state, were heavily involved in influencing the vote. Besides, this is a site about cars – not politics even though it sometimes plays a part as mentioned.

      Outside of this article, I thought it interesting the UAW complained about ‘outside parties’ coming into the debate and influencing the vote. I would argue the UAW was also an ‘outside party’ to the plant, trying to worm their way inside.

      I found it also interesting the vote was actually pretty close. The final vote wasn’t a crushing win or defeat. Instead the final vote was 53% against and 47% for. 44 people changing their vote would have made all the difference – that’s a very small number.

  • avatar
    alsorl

    People that hate the UAW usually hate America in some way. This writer probably has not owned an American made vehicle in 25 years. People like this turns his head away when hearing how the Japanese Government subsidizes research and development for Toyota and other Japanese brands.

  • avatar
    philipwitak

    [no \'reply button\' visible to me so reprinting entire comment]: ” danio3834 / February 19th, 2014 at 11:42 am / Some employees may see things that way, but many others see their employment relationship with their employer as a win-win. There are employees out there who see themselves as more than just slaves and actually enjoy their work.”

    no argument from me about that – but you are twisting my comments into something i did not state and most certainly do not believe.

    i said ‘capital/business/republican politicans [reasonable translation in this instance: employers] are no friend of labor’ – i did not say nor mean to imply what sort of value employees [labor] may or may not put on the source of their paychecks [capital/business].

    • 0 avatar
      doctor olds

      I think what Danio was trying to say is you are wrong, even with your restating your preconceptions.
      Successful enterprises share success with employees in a fee will environment because they pay for performance. This inspires and rewards work toward the common goal.
      Unions can distort that relationship by demanding more than market value for services and inspiring the “us vs. them” attitude that seems evident in your words. It simply does not have to be that way.

      If I have it wrong Danio, forgive me for presuming.

      • 0 avatar
        rushn

        @doctor olds

        Yep, you got it wrong by using the blanket “unions” instead of the specific example. German auto unions (and others) are a good example of why it’s important to not use blanket statements when talking about a particular situation.

        • 0 avatar
          doctor olds

          I purposely chose the phrase “unions can distort…” to allow that not all unions necessarily do so.

          I was thinking of the apparently good relationships of Japanese and German unions with no depth of knowledge on them.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        You got it. Some people are perfectly satisfied with the “friendship” they have with their employer, whether that be based on their treatment in the workplace, compensation, or the nature of their work.

        Like business partners in a traditional sense, one usually has more power than the other, but often the terms can be quite agreeable for both.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    http://www.redstate.com/tag/union-violence/

    I wouldn’t recommend that anyone else reveals their identity while telling the truth about US labor unions.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      I wouldn’t recommend anyone reveal their identity when telling the truth about the capitalists.

      I don’t see, however, why we don’t have more information about what Anonymous’ background is?

      I’m not exactly enthralled by the article but I’d like to know if there’s some reason for publishing him beyond, “temped at Honda,” which isn’t much in the way of labor or automaking expertise.

  • avatar
    Chiburb

    The vote would have been reversed if 1 thing had happened:

    Call it a Workers Confederation instead of a Union.

    Branding baby!

  • avatar
    DIYer

    For what it’s worth, ‘Joe the Plumber’ (aka Samuel Wurzelbacher) is now UAW at a Jeep plant in Toledo:

    http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2014/02/17/Joe-the-Plumber-Wurzelbacher-hired-by-Chrysler-Corporation.html

  • avatar
    markf

    This could be part of the problem……

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/10/chrysler-workers-drinking_n_2272291.html

  • avatar
    Crosley

    What is exactly is the pressing need for the workers in Chattanooga to unionize? That’s what seems so silly about this whole thing. The UAW is acting like it’s some sort of sweatshop, yet the workers themselves are telling the union to take a hike. This is even with VW being muzzled and basically giving the UAW free reign to make their case.

    So a multi-year long, multi million dollar campaign fails to convince the workers to to unionize. Why not move along? Or was this always just about union dues feeding an organization and not really about the fear that these workers were being exploited by an evil corporation?

  • avatar
    Yeah_right

    I started as a young engineer in a unionized Michigan assembly plant. I was appreciative of the job I had and wanted to do right by the company. I was also raised to work hard for the people paying my salary. So, you know a little backstory before you respond with an explanation of how misguided my comments are.

    I believe that most of the men and women on the production line came into the job feeling the way I did. For most of them, within months the work ethic was gone. Anyone working too hard was told 100 times a day, in subtle and not so ways, that they needed to back off. The few who’s pride didn’t allow it were met in the parking lot. Or their wives got a visit during the day.

    The unions that some of you defend on this site protect some of the nastiest, most vile people you’ll ever meet. More employees lost their job by going to jail than lost it because of performance. The extreme adversarial attitude meant that making improvements, an engineer’s motivation, took 10x as long as it should. In my travel, I never saw another world class plant that was unionized. Not one. It is impossible under the system.

    So I left and went to work in Tennessee, but not for a car plant. Production workers are treated well. They are recognized for their skills and for working hard. Their opinion is welcomed and sought out. And we make world class products here. I don’t care what benefit the union caused in 1930. Their day is long past.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      “More employees lost their job by going to jail than lost it because of performance.”

      Are we talking about the UAW or the NFL?

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      My ‘kid’ brother is looking to fold his small restoration company after 15 years of hardwork, tremendous reputation (he has a waiting list of clients), and endless paperwork. He just wants someplace with good benefits and stability.

      It’s been hard for him finding a place but I know it’ll happen soon hopefully. My biggest fear is his work ethic – he holds himself and his employees to a high standard. He hustles. He’s truthful about the scope of the work.

      By all indications he’s not union material.

    • 0 avatar
      E46M3_333

      Good thing you didn’t mention you watch Fox News or something, or some people would not take your comments seriously.
      .
      .

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
    ― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

    Well, 250+ replies to a simple rant posted on the interweb that evidently touched quite a nerve. Is the US auto industry currently a dysfunctional family? Did two out of three major U.S. auto companies recently go bankrupt? Can a girl from the little mining town in the West find happiness as the wife of a wealthy and titled Englishman?”

    Stay tuned.


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